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THE ADVENTURE SPECIAL

Buffalo,  USA

Central Sweden

Denver,  USA

Lisbon, Portugal

Maastricht, Netherlands

Neretva, Croatia

Nicoya, Costa Rica

North Cornwall,  UK

I s s u e

45 I S S N

2 3 9 7 - 3 4 0 4


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ISSUE 45 • ESCAPISM • 9

EDITOR’S LETTER

E D I TO R I A L

EDITOR

Jon Hawkins ASSOCIATE EDITOR

Lydia Winter STAFF WRITER

Tom Powell CONTRIBUTING EDITOR

Hannah Summers SUB EDITOR

Victoria Smith CONTRIBUTORS

Ashwin Bhardwaj, Rob Crossan, Matt Maynard, Laura Millar, Will Renwick

EDITORIAL DIRECTOR

Mark Hedley SALES DIRECTORS

Mike Berrett, Alex Watson PRINT ADVERTISING

I

DESIGN

ART DIRECTOR

Matthew Hasteley DEPUTY ART DIRECTOR

Ryan Van Kesteren DESIGNERS

Emily Black, Annie Brooks, Nicola Poulos JUNIOR DESIGNER

Louis Moss STUDIO PHOTOGRAPHY

Chris Johnson COVER PHOTOGRAPH

LOOK Die Bildagentur der Fotografen GmbH / Alamy

SENIOR COMMS MANAGER

Melissa van der Haak MARKETING EXECUTIVE

Kate Rogan DIRECTOR

Jade Blair, Chris Brown, Maria Constas, Jason Lyon, Thomas Ryan

James Rolph

LEAD DEVELOPER

CEO

AJ Cerqueti FINANCIAL DIRECTOR

Steve Cole

T’S HARD TO imagine a time when Google Street View didn’t exist. Maps are astonishing things, and they carry a hell of a lot of historical, geographical and political weight in their blocks and lines, but you need experience and imagination to look at a map and see a real place. Street View’s different – drop the little orange person onto a road or a hotspot and you’re projected into that exact spot, frozen in some given moment in time. Amazingly, but not unsurprisingly, there’s even an agoraphobic photographer, Jacqui Kenny (@streetview.portraits on Instagram), who uses Street View to capture arty images that range from the surreal to the beautiful via the totally mundane. When I’m not actually travelling I’m a compulsive Street View adventurer. Pick a place and see where I drop in – the weirder the better. My current obsession is a cluster of remote settlements on the east of Greenland, where I’ve come across jagged mountains, lonely gas towers, clusters of crimson huts and icebergs lit by the low Arctic sun – all in a single swivel. It looks impossibly cold and inhospitable, and I’m not 100% sure I’d actually want to go there. But then I’ve always thought the best travel experiences come when you’re outside your comfort zone – either a little or a lot – and if you’re after inspiration, check out our guide to the best trips for adventurous travellers on p36. However hardcore you are (or aren’t), there’s something for you, whether you’re planning a trip or travelling by Street View. Maybe I’ll see you in Greenland. ◆

MANAGING DIRECTOR

Stephen Laffey

Jon Hawkins, Editor

Tim Slee CHAIRMAN

Tom Kelly OBE

ACCOUNTS

@EscapismMag

Caroline Walker, Taylor Haynes

@escapismmag

SQUARE UP MEDIA IS A SQUARE UP GROUP COMPANY The Professional Publishers Association Member

Winners!

Contributor Safi Thind won the VisitEngland Travel Article of the Year award for his piece in Escapism on walking from the west to the east coast of England. You can read it at

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© Square Up Media Limited 2017. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. All information contained in this magazine is, as far as we are aware, correct at the time of going to press. Square Up Media cannot accept responsibility for errors or inaccuracies in such information. If you submit unsolicited material to us, you automatically grant Square Up Media a licence to publish your submission in whole or in part in all editions of the magazine. All material is sent at your own risk and although every care is taken, neither Square Up Media nor its employees, agents or subcontractors shall be held liable resulting for loss or damage. Square Up Media endeavours to respect the intellectual property of the owners of copyrighted material reproduced herein. If you identify yourself as the copyright holder of material we have wrongly attributed, please contact the office.


20

60

CONTENTS

DEPARTURES 15 ◆ Photos 20 ◆ Just Landed 25 ◆ On Location: Tomb Raider 28 ◆ Short Stay: Cornwall 30 ◆  In Focus: Buffalo, New York

85

108

EXPERIENCES

EXCURSIONS

C OV E R S TO RY

36

Adventure Special

The action-packed activities and tours you need on your to-do list 44 ◆ Colorado, USA ◆ Views and brews

A road trip from downtown Denver to Rocky Mountain National Park 50

Netherlands

Food

Dutch produce has barely registered on the foodie radar. Until now…

55 ◆ Neretva, Croatia ◆ The other side

A tourist-free trip around a hidden gem that’s ripe for adventure 60 ◆ Nicoya, Costa Rica ◆ Off the beaten track

Sand, surf and pura vida in one of the healthiest places in the world 65 ◆ Lisbon, Portugal ◆ City guide

Food, festivals and other essentials

85 ◆ The Checklist: Adventure gear, plus headphones 97 ◆ The Intrepid Series: Sweden 108 The Selector: Hidden USA, learning breaks and UK walks 114 Rear View

[top left] Heinz Troll; [top right] Michelle Zassenhaus/Getty; [bottom left] ricardo junqueira; [bottom middle] Chris Johnson; [bottom right] MS Trollfjord

65


DEPARTURES

Chin Boon Leng/ 2018 Sony World Photography Awards

15 20 25 28

Just Landed

On Location

Short Stay 30

In the Frame

In Focus

Tomb Raider

Watergate Bay, Cornwall ◆

Buffalo, New York


asturiastourism.co.uk


IN THE FRAME • DEPARTURES • 15

IN THE FRAME

The shortlist for the Sony World Photography Awards has been announced, and the travel shots on show are absolutely outrageous [

PHOTOGRAPHY

]

Yajun Hu/Sony World Photography Awards 2018

WHAT A DIVE: This photo – commended in the Open Travel category – captures a young boy at the moment he plunges into the Atlantic in Casablanca, Morocco


PIC AND MIX 2018 SONY WORLD PHOTOGRAPHY AWARDS The annual Sony World Photography Awards are back with a bang, and this year’s show is packed to the rafters with some of the most cuttingedge, hard-hitting photography captured on the planet over the last 12 months. And it’s not just travel snaps like this cool

aerial pic of a winding mountain road in Gansu Province, China, either. Head to the exhibition at Somerset House from 20 April-6 May and you’ll be able to see the very best shots from all categories. Whether you’re into urban and architectural snaps, portraits, nature photography or awe-inspriing wildlife shots, it’s there. Amen to that. Tickets £7-14. Want more information? You’ll find it at worldphoto.org


IN THE FRAME • DEPARTURES • 17

Firstname Surname Li Wang/Sony World Photography Awards 2018


STEPPE UP YOUR EFFORTS: This

perfectly timed photograph of two nomadic men on the Eurasian steppe was commended in the Open Travel category


IN THE FRAME • DEPARTURES • 19

Firstname Surname Changzai Lu/Sony World Photography Awards 2018


20 • DEPARTURES • JUST LANDED

CABIN FEVER

JUST LANDED

The opening of eco cabins in Wales, the newest flight routes, and a great way for solo parents to take their kids on holiday – our pick of the latest travel news will inspire to you get away from it all

[

WHAT’S

NEW

IN

TRAVEL

]

IF YOU LIKE the outdoors but would rather enjoy them from the warm, dry confines of a luxury eco cabin, head to Forest Holidays’ new site, launching in Snowdonia National Park this year. Not only will you get to soak up all that foresty atmosphere from a plush cabin that blends into its surroundings, but you’ll also have unfettered access to miles of walking paths and mountain bike trails through conifer woodland. What’s more, you’ll also benefit from the input of Forest Holidays’ dedicated Forest Ranger, who can provide you with guided walks focusing on everything from night-time ambles to ‘Forest Survival’ programmes. Bear Grylls eat your heart out. Three-night weekend breaks start from £576 for a two-bedroom cabin. forestholidays.co.uk

LUXE GOOD

PORTO OF CALL:

AIM FOR THE SKY

(Porto) Juan_de/Getty

TAP Air began 2018 with the announcement of its new route from London City airport to Porto, Portugal, home to glorious wine bars, superlative seafood and sun-drenched rooftops. Launching at the end of March, the flights arrive just in time for you to get that first tantalising glimpse of summer sunshine. And if that whets your appetite for warmer climes, BA also launches a new route to Nashville in May, giving you greater access to legendary music sites like Music City and the Country Music Hall of Fame, as well as plenty of fried chicken and utterly delicious barbecue. Cowboy boots optional. Flights from London City Airport to Porto from £71. flytap.com; flights from London Heathrow to Nashville from £647 return. ba.com

From the end of March, the pretty city of Porto will be even more accessible, thanks to new flights from London City airport with TAP Air

IF YOU THOUGHT sunning yourself on a beach in the Maldives couldn’t get much better, here’s where you’re wrong: you could be sunning yourself on the loft deck of your own private villa in the Maldives, thanks to Milaidhoo Island Maldives and its recently opened Ocean Residence. The thatch-roofed villa sits out over the water with unparalleled views of the Indian Ocean and steps down into the sea that give you direct access to the house reef. Not a water baby? Look to one of the new Beach Residences instead, which boast – you guessed it – their own private beaches. And if all that sun makes you miss the drizzle of the UK, try the rain shower – you’ll feel right at home in no time. From £2,670 per night. milaidhoo.com


22 • DEPARTURES • JUST LANDED

THE OLD TRUMAN BREWERY’S PORTLAND POP-UP IN APRIL ISN’T QUITE A HOLIDAY TO OREGON, BUT IT’S ONLY A TUBE RIDE AWAY

ATLANTIC CROSSING IF PORTLAND, OREGON is the hipster capital of the US, Shoreditch is its miniature London counterpart – which means a month-long Portlandia pop-up at Old Truman Brewery makes perfect sense. There’ll be immersive experiences, pop-up shops and spoken word showcases, as well as coffee and beer tastings to celebrate the creativity of Portland’s finest. Elsewhere, Zia McCabe of the Dandy Warhols will be taking over Juju’s Bar & Stage over the bank holiday. It’s not quite a holiday to Oregon, but it’s only a Tube ride away. 18 April-16 May. travelportland.com

SIGN OF THE TIMES:

The city of Portland, Oregon is a veritable factory for new trends, from food to arts and culture – catch the latest at this month-long pop up

ON THE WAY UP JUST A QUICK squiz at Daios Cove’s pics will have you hankering for a luxurious getaway, the kind where you relax on a private beach or swim in a perfect, brilliant-blue pool. But for the new opening season, Daios Cove in Crete has upped its ante even more, with upgrades to its spa and much-loved restaurant. There’s a new open-air kitchen where chefs will cook over wood fires, two new outdoor seating areas for dining al fresco, new beach cabanas so you can enjoy your spa treatment by the water, and much, much more. Forget the pictures – we can’t wait to try this one for ourselves. From £155pn on a half-board basis. daioscove.com

DON’T GO IT ALONE

Halong Bay and discovering Hoi An, Vietnam; or adventuring around Costa Rica. You’ll get all the R and R and exploring you crave, without having to do all of the organisation, while the kids get a kickass holiday and the chance to make heaps of new friends. Sorted. intrepidtravel.com

(Daios Cove) Heinz Troll

When you’re a single parent, the idea of a family holiday may seem a bit like very expensive torture – and an end to your own adventures. But Intrepid Travel is turning this idea on its head with the

launch of six new tours specifically for one-parent families that will still give you the chance to see the world, and avoid single supplements while you’re at it. That means your next vacay with your sprog(s) could see you wandering around Delhi, Jaipur and the Taj Mahal; cycling around Hanoi, cruising in


Meet Milaidhoo, a new chapter in luxury Welcome to Milaidhoo Maldives. Our boutique island retreat in the heart of a UNESCO world biosphere reserve where luxury and nature live side by side. Here you’ll step into your own small island story, discovering the true Maldives, natural beauty, harmonious luxury, adventure and complete relaxation. Book your Milaidhoo story at www.milaidhoo.com

T. +960 660 0484 reservations@milaidhoo.com @Milaidhoo


Start your trip by train Fast, frequent services and great value fares

Buy now at thameslinkrailway.com


ON LOCATION • DEPARTURES • 25

ON THE FLY

ON LOCATION

Rainy season is upon us, and you’re gonna need a better jacket…

The new Tomb Raider movie takes place in Asian seas so deadly they’re known as the ‘Bermuda Triangle of the Pacific’. Sensibly, though, it was actually filmed in sunny South Africa

[

WESTERN

CAPE,

SOUTH

AFRICA

]

FJÄLLRÄVEN KEB ECO-SHELL (W) Three-layer shell jacket that’ll keep you warm and dry in changing conditions. Its game-changing eco credentials are no less impressive. £435; fjallraven.co.uk

I ZUMA Press, Inc./Alamy Stock Photo

NTREPID ADVENTURERS DRIVEN by a beyondthe-grave video message from their father: they’re the sort of people who’ll sail themselves through deadly seas, hostile locals and torturous captivity to foil a plot against world order. But movie stars, directors and film crews with thousands of pounds of heavy gear aren’t often that way inclined. That’s why, when it comes to filming a high-risk mission of a movie like the latest Tomb Raider, the whole shebang ups sticks and moves to somewhere a little more… palatable. This time ’round, the Devil’s Sea – a patch of tumultuous water between Japan, Taiwan and Guam that’s known as the Bermuda Triangle of the Pacific – is actually subbed in for the sunny climes of Western Cape, South Africa. And it does a great job: the iconic Table Mountain plays host to epic action, while you

can get the sense of adventure without lifting a finger by staying at Forest Hall – a huge country estate and winery that also features. One thing that doesn’t appear, however, is the adorable colony of African penguins that chill on the beaches around Cape Town – largely because they don’t live anywhere near Taiwan. Shame, really, because they definitely would’ve stolen the show. ◆ Tomb Raider is in UK cinemas now.

IT TAKES TOMB:

SALOMON OUTSPEED HYBRID JACKET Combines superlight weight and packability with wind and water resistance. £160; salomon.com

Alicia Vikander plays Lara Croft in the 2018 movie. Two previous movies in the early 2000s starred Angelina Jolie.

SOUTH AFRICA’S WESTERN CAPE SUBS IN FOR A PATCH OF WATER BETWEEN JAPAN, TAIWAN AND GUAM KNOWN AS THE DEVIL’S SEA

ON WEATHER JACKET Aptly named jacket from On, offering great mobility and breathability in an ultra-light, weatherresistant package. £190; on-running.com


WE ARE PROUD to HONOUR THE LEGENDARY INNOVATOR JOHN CRABBIE WITH OUR ADVENTUROUS RANGE OF UNCONVENTIONAL HANDCRAFTED ALCOHOLIC GINGER BEER BLENDS.


INSTAGUIDE: MANCHESTER • DEPARTURES • 27

@07PESTERA

HOT SHOTS

WITH SUCH A rich history, it’s unsurprising that Manchester boasts a diverse range of architecture styles, from the medieval to the very modern. Instagrammer Adam Pester snapped this shot of the Victorian neogothic town hall, one of the city’s most famous buildings. Follow his account and you’ll see more of the city than you bargained for, from grand facades to forgotten – but no less beautiful – corners.

From utterly delicious street food to diverse and intriguing architecture, these home-grown Instagrammers are tempting us to travel north and explore vibrant, bustling Manchester

[

MANCHESTER,

UK

]

@OUTHOUSEMCR THIS ACCOUNT BELONGS to an outdoor space for public art that’s located in Manchester’s trendy Northern Quarter. The city’s blank surfaces are a canvas for upand-coming artists, and from that Out House was born – a disused three-block building where these artists can showcase their work by painting its walls. It gets reworked once every three months, so catch anything you might have missed on the project’s Instagram.

@EATMCR YUHHH, THAT’S FRIED chicken. And what tasty-looking fried chicken it is, served at Joshua Brooks, a bar on Princess Street. Manchester’s food scene is going from strength to strength, and this account pays homage to it and then some, showcasing the city’s dirtiest, most delicious dishes. Warning: do not follow if you’re hungry. Or do follow, and let your waistline pay for it later. Your choice.


SHORT STAY

WATERGATE BAY, NORTH CORNWALL

Beautiful views, a stellar selection of restaurants, surfing on tap, stylish decor and familyfriendly facilities… You usually need to compromise on at least one, but at Watergate Bay in Cornwall, Jon Hawkins finds a place where you can actually have it all

[

WATERGATE

BAY,

NORTH

CORNWALL

]

COST: Rooms

from £185 per night B&B ADDRESS:

Watergate Bay, Cornwall TR8 4AA NEAREST TOWN:

Newquay GETTING THERE: It’s

around a fivehour drive from London, or get the train from Paddington to Newquay in the same amount of time TO BOOK: watergatebay. co.uk

WHAT’S THE SCORE Watergate Bay Hotel sits right on the arc of sand that gives it its name, which means wherever you are – your room, the indoor infinity pool, each of its restaurants – there’s a good chance you’ll have stellar views of the North Cornwall coastline. When you’re not ogling the swell or the dark, jagged cliffs, the hotel offers a comforting slice of boutique-meets-designer, old-meets-new real estate where food and family both feature prominently.

WHAT TO EAT Each of the hotels’ restaurants offers something different: the loungey Living Space serves up neck-straining views of the coastline alongside a selection of classic modernBritish dishes, while Zacry’s is occasion dining with a firm focus on local produce. A short stroll away you’ll find the relaxed, sea-level Beach Hut and – though it isn’t part of the hotel – Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall, the restaurant set up by the

In your element: The pool at Watergate Bay is cleverly designed so you can appreciate the hotel’s natural surroundings even if the weather is being a little… British.


SHORT STAY • DEPARTURES • 29

THE BEST FAMILY STAYS With the kids to tow, it can be tricky to cover all bases when choosing where to stay. Check out these high-end, family-friendly hotels that will keep everyone happy

THE FISH HOTEL, COTSWOLDS A long-time Cotswolds favourite, The Fish Hotel is reopening after a £4m refurb. The new on-site Farmhouse is available for exclusive family use, while the four-person Treehouses set to open in May will be a surefire hit with kids (with adult-friendly touches such as en-suite bathrooms and a mini bar). Treehouses from £360 per night; thefishhotel.co.uk

EXPECT TO RELAX, EVEN IF YOU’VE GOT KIDS WITH YOU — everything here is designed to help you to unwind chef/author/food crusader and now run by head chef Adam Banks. It’s as much about social responsibility as it is about innovative-but-approachable cooking, with a menu heavily influenced by both Italy and the local area.

(Pool) Kirstin Prisk; (food) David Griffen

WHAT TO EXPECT If you’ve come to a seaside hotel expecting classic seaside hotel decor like distressed wood, white panelling and pastel-blue stripes, you’re in luck, though it’s all done with a hefty slice of style and fun at Watergate Bay. Expect to relax, too, even if you’ve got kids in tow – everything here is designed to help you unwind, though you’ll definitely want to hit the beach and the restaurants hard. That said, you can’t be eating all the time (though God knows we do try), so it’s good to know there’s plenty to keep you occupied in the hotel. Swim Club is where you’ll find the aforementioned pool, and it’s also home to treatment rooms and a tiny bar with a strong spirits selection – both of which you might well find yourself drawn to after surf lessons with the Bay’s Extreme Academy or an afternoon hike along the path that winds its way along the cliff tops. And if you’re bringing the kids, you’ll be glad to know the hotel’s set up to make your life as easy as possible, with a kids’ zone, family suites and a big choice of kids’ food, as well as special half term activities. After all, why should the grown-ups have all the fun? ◆

THE GROVE, HERTFORDSHIRE This ‘country estate near the city’ has three acres to explore. There’s giant Jenga and a beach in the grounds, junior golf clubs and bikes for hire, and designated family rooms. Kids will get milk and cookies on arrival, while adults can retire to the ultra-stylish bar for evening cocktails. An absolute winner for everyone. Family rooms from £330 per night; thegrove.co.uk

STEP-UP TO THE PLATE: Zacry’s

restaurant servesup British dishes made from Cornish ingredients, just what you need after a long day in the surf

ANOTHER PLACE, LAKE DISTRICT This new hotel from the team behind Watergate Bay swaps Cornish surf for the shores of Ullswater. Cool, contemporary accommodation, an Ofsted-registered kids’ space and special family activities including raft building and night walks make this one of the Lake District’s hottest properties for a break with the kids. Family suites from £230 per night; another.place


US FOCUS

We’ve strayed from UK shores for this month’s city focus and sent Laura Millar on a trip over the Atlantic to get the lowdown on Buffalo, New York state’s second-largest metropolis and the birthplace of the world-famous, red-hot chicken wings

[

BUFFALO,

NEW

YORK

]

EAT Let’s start with those famous wings. It’s the Anchor Bar (anchorbar.com) on Main Street, downtown Buffalo, which lays claim to being the inventor of this finger-licking dish. The legend goes that one spring night in 1964, Dominic, son of the bar’s owners, Frank and Teressa Bellissimo, rocked up late with some of his mates looking for a quick snack. Teressa slung some chicken wings – the bits that were normally chucked out – into the deep-fryer, coated them with a homemade spicy tomato sauce, and a phenomenon was born. They still serve them here with a blue cheese dip (anything else is sacrilege) and sticks of celery to cool the palate; don’t wipe your mouth or hands until the whole messy mound is finished or you’ll be marked out as a rank amateur. Other wing wonderlands rated by locals include Gabriel’s Gate (gabrielsgate.page.tl) in fashionable Allentown, Duff ’s Famous Wings (duffswings.com) – whose motto goes ‘Medium IS HOT! Medium hot IS VERY HOT! Hot is VERY VERY HOT’ (you’ve been warned) – and the Nine-Eleven Tavern on Bloomfield Avenue, whose sauce has a secret ingredient that keeps fans coming back for more. The area around Ellicott Street is fast gaining ground in the foodie world, with new openings such as Tappo (tappoitalian.com), which dishes up homecooked comfort food like spaghetti with meatballs on its airy rooftop, or Deep South Taco (deepsouthtaco. com), a funky little taqueria whose specials include guajillo-braised beef and home-made chorizo. Hutch’s (hutchsrestaurant.com), by the sprawling green space of Delaware Park, is a fine-dining institution featuring an American twist on French classics, while Ashker’s, in boho Elmwood Village, is all about healthy local ingredients and freshly squeezed juices.

DRINK Part of the growing craft beer scene, the Big Ditch Brewing Co (bigditchbrewing.com) on East Huron Street serves up a range of signature and seasonal brews, from stouts to ales to wheat beers. The airy, warehouse-sized space is close to the neoclassical Buffalo Savings Bank, whose domed roof claims to be covered in over 140,000 squares of gold leaf. Right by the city’s ice-hockey rink (go Sabres!) is the 716 sports bar (harborcenter.com) featuring a 38ft giant split screen above the bar, and over 70 more big screen TVs.

ORDER BUFFALO WINGS AND DON’T WIPE YOUR MOUTH UNTIL YOU’VE FINISHED OR YOU’LL BE MARKED AS AN AMATEUR

DO Buffalo boomed in the mid-19th-century due to its strategic placement at the tip of Lake Erie as the terminus of the Erie Canal. Trade and shipping flourished, businessmen and industrialists became


US FOCUS: BUFFALO • DEPARTURES • 31

BUFFALO WAS LARGELY DESIGNED BY SOME OF THE WORLD’S MOST FAMOUS ARCHITECTS AND LANDSCAPERS

LEFT: It’s said that the

(Anchor Bar and music hall) Randy Duchaine/Alamy; (park) mauritius images GmbH/Alamy

city’s famed Buffalo wings were invented at Anchor Bar, so if you’re going to try them, try them here; ABOVE: Kleinhans Music Hall

RIGHT: Buffalo’s Canalside district, a lively, newly renovated area where there’s plenty going on, from festivals to kayaking and paddleboarding

gazillionaires, and the city was largely designed by some of the world’s most famous architects and landscapers. Take an open-air bus tour (openairbuffalo.org) to see some of the best examples, such as the 19th-century Richardson Olmsted Complex, an impressively Gothic former psychiatric hospital which has been developed into a luxury hotel; the network of urban parks and green, open spaces created by Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed Central Park; or the minimalist Eero Saarinen-designed Kleinhans Music Hall. Much of Buffalo’s wealth came from shipping grain down to the Hudson River via the Erie Canal but its vast, towering grain elevators and silos are all but abandoned now (although General Mills, the company which makes Cheerios, still uses some – the comforting smell of cooking cereal often wafts through the air). The Buffalo River tour (buffaloriverhistorytours.com) lets you see these eerie, empty hulking structures from the water. Next, head to Canalside (canalsidebuffalo.com), a newly-renovated, buzzy riverfront district where cultural events and festivals are held regularly – partake in a spot of stand-up paddleboarding or kayaking on the river, or visit the warships at the nearby Naval and Military Park (buffalonavalpark.org). At night, the largest group of grain elevators turns into a light sculpture, with illuminations projected onto its sides.

SEE Modernist architect Frank Lloyd Wright was commissioned by several Buffalo bigwigs to design their homes. One of the best preserved – although still undergoing restoration – is the Martin House Complex (martinhouse.org), which he constructed for wealthy businessman Darwin Martin. It showcases Wright’s distinctive style, with low-slung lines, overhanging eaves and art deco glass panels. The Albright-Knox Gallery (albrightknox.org) has a 6,500-strong collection of modern and fine art on rotation; catch works by Warhol, Picasso, Dali, Pollock and more. On Sundays in the summer there are free open-air jazz concerts on the lawns outside, and the gallery’s public art initiative sees works scattered throughout the city; don’t miss getting a selfie with ‘Shark Girl’, a fabulous fibreglass sculpture by artist Casey Riordan Millard – half girl dressed in →


32 • DEPARTURES • US FOCUS: BUFFALO

LOOK OUT FOR ART SCATTERED THROUGHOUT THE CITY AND DON’T MISS GETTING A SELFIE WITH ‘SHARK GIRL’ → an Alice in Wonderland outfit, half, well, shark. You’ll find her sitting pretty on Canalside. History buffs will geek out on the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site (trsite.org), one of only a handful of sites where a US president took the oath of office outside the nation’s capital: in September, 1901, Teddy Roosevelt had to be sworn here following the assassination of his predecessor, William McKinley, at Buffalo’s World Fair. Just a 30-minute drive from the city are the pounding waters of Niagara Falls; suit-up in a waterproof poncho and make like Marilyn Monroe, Al Pacino or even One Direction with a trip into the torrents of water in the Maid of the Mist (maidofthemist.com).

leather jackets, helmets, and all manner of rather fine accessories. Artsy Elmwood Village is home to Thin Ice, a temple to locally made crafts, jewellery and gifts. If you’re looking for a pair of socks decorated with, well, buffalo, then this is definitely the place for you.

STAY

SHOP Buffalonians (trust us, that’s what they’re called) are absolutely spoiled when it comes to record shops, though sadly one of its most famous and longest-running – Record Theatre on Main Street – closed last year. Instead, crate diggers should head to Revolver Records on Hertel Avenue (revolverrecordsinc.com) for a 15,000-strong selection that includes everything from classic rarities to modern LPs. You can get all the Father John Misty, Gorillaz and Kendrick Lamar you want, but also Van Morrison, Grateful Dead or Johnny Cash (who all, fact fans, wrote songs that mention Buffalo). If you’re a biker badass, get along to Spoke and Dagger at 1434 Hertel Avenue for vintage-style

TOP: Head to the

Albright-Knox Art Gallery for modern and fine art; LEFT: It goes without saying that you should visit Niagra Falls while you’re in Buffalo

GETTING THERE Fly from London to New York via Lisbon or Porto with TAP Portugal (flytap.com; 0345 601 0932) from £411 return. Flights from New York to Buffalo Niagara start from £135 return with JetBlue (jetblue.com). For more information, see visitbuffaloniagara.com.

(Albright-Knox) Randy Duchaine/Alamy; (Niagra) Robert Harding/Alamy

The InnBuffalo, located in Elmwood Village, is a lovingly restored mansion that formerly belonged to rubber manufacturer H. H. Hewitt; owners Joe and Ellen Lettieri have combined its traditional look with stylish, modern comforts. It’s one of many similar huge, stunning houses situated around the city that were once owned by Buffalo’s wealthy industrialists (check out Millionaire’s Row for some serious house envy), fronted with wooden panels and set in gorgeous gardens on wide, tree-lined boulevards. Rooms start from $139/£100 per night, including breakfast (innbuffalo.com). Nearby, Hotel Henry – Buffalo’s answer to London’s The Ned – has been three years in the making, revamping the imposing Richard Olmsted Complex into an 88-room luxury property that’s dripping with style (hotelhenry. com). Rooms, which start from $169/£121 per night, are decorated in (50) shades of grey, offset by neutral tones, and there’s an upscale restaurant, destination cocktail bar and acres of pretty parkland to stroll around in. Feeling real fancy? Check in to Hotel at the Lafayette, designed in 1904 by Louise Blanchard Bethune, who is believed to be the first American woman to have worked as a professional architect (buffalobrewerydistrict.com/ lafayette) The hotel had a revamp five years ago and is now a vision in gilt and marble, complete with its own on-site microbrewery, the Lafayette Brewing Company. Double rooms start from $169/£121 per night. ◆


Kempinski Seychelles Resort Baie Lazare is an ideal location for those seeking a world-class island adventure. Usually considered a romantic destination for couples and honeymooners, the Seychelles is also an excellent destination for adventure-packed island getaways. Year-round warm weather, calm oceans and spectacular outdoor adventures means that there is plenty to attract travellers in search of more than just secluded beaches. Make this luxury hotel your base during your stay in paradise and enjoy thrilling snorkelling in crystal-clear waters, guided nature walks through tropical jungle or a breathtaking hilltop yoga class in one of the most picturesque locations on Earth. For more information contact: +248 438 6666 or info.seychelles@kempinski.com

kempinski.com/seychelles


EXPERIENCES

H&I Adventures

36 ◆ Action & Adventure Special 44 ◆ Colorado, USA ◆ Views and brews 50 ◆ Netherlands ◆ Dutch food culture 55 ◆ Neretva, Croatia ◆ An untapped resource 60 ◆ Nicoya, Costa Rica ◆ Beaches with a difference 65 ◆ Lisbon, Portugal ◆ City guide


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LIVE LIFE ON THE EDGE Sun, sea, and… scaling a mountain? If that sounds like your kind of holiday, we’ve got some suggestions for epic high-octane trips that will elevate your break to adventurous new highs and raise your adrenaline levels, too

4,167m

Winter trek of Mount Toubkal

C

2,000km

of Patagonian mountain biking

ALLING ALL ADRENALINE junkies and intrepid adventurers: we’ve scoured the globe for the very best active holidays, from trekking through the mystical cloud forests of Laos to rafting in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Not sure just how adventurous you are? We’ve got some ideas for weekend escapes, too – and even one that you can do without leaving London at all. So whether you’re a waterbaby, landlubber or just really love mountains, we’ve found a holiday that’ll pique your interest – all arranged handily according to difficulty. So sit back, relax and dive on in… >

150km/h

On a Ras Al Khaimah zipline

Words by LYDIA WINTER wherenext.com

AIN’T NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH: If you’re seeking an extra dose of daring on your trip, Chile and Patagonia are prime spots


ACTION AND ADVENTURE • EXPERIENCES • 37


IF YOU WANT TO GET WET… SURFING IN THE SOUTH OF FRANCE ◆ RATING: Dip a toe in Surfing: looks cool, but is actually really, really hard. Brush up your skills while soaking up sultry summer nights to a suitably chilled soundtrack in Boardmasters’ camp in Moliets-et-Maa, southwest France. Expect surf lessons, yoga sessions, live gigs and late-night parties – checking all our boxes for the ultimate summer getaway. Accommodation involves stylish bell tents and there’s a skate ramp, an outdoor cinema and a cocktail bar. Gnarly, dude. NEED TO KNOW: Seven nights’ shared

accommodation from £349pp. 30 June-7 July 2018. boardmasterssurfcamps.com; easyJet flies from Gatwick to Biarritz from £71.14 return. easyjet.com

SAIL AROUND THAI ISLANDS

◆◆ RATING: Make a splash Everyone knows someone who’s bagged that near-iconic snap on the beaches of beautiful Phi Phi island off Thailand’s west coast. Now you can one-up them by cruising around those very islands on a yacht, stopping to kayak, paddle board and snorkel through the inlets, caves and hidden lagoons as you go, thanks to Intrepid Travel. You’ll also be fed delicious local cuisine by the on-board chef, with beach barbecues at sunset and the chance

ROCKY TERRITORY: [above] Yep, mountain biking through volcanic Chilean Patagonia is a thing; [right] Descending Mount Toubkal in Morocco

to sleep outside under a blanket of stars. Sounds pretty darn nice to us. NEED TO KNOW: Four days from £570 per person including selected meals. intrepidtravel.com; Emirates flies from Gatwick to Phuket via Dubai from £586 return. emirates.com

RAFTING AND HIKING IN ALASKA

◆ ◆ ◆ RATING: Cannonball! Pack your waterproofs and wrap up warm, because even though this trip takes place in spring, the average temperature in the Arctic


ACTION AND ADVENTURE • EXPERIENCES • 39

YOU’RE LIKELY TO SPOT CARIBOU, GRIZZLIES, WOLVES AND FALCONS AS YOU RAFT 60 MILES DOWN THE KONGAKUT RIVER IN ALASKA National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern Alaska, US is still only 5°C. You’ll join intrepid tour operator Arctic Wild at its Fairbank headquarters before heading to the Kongakut River, where you’ll be surrounded by 20 million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The area is home to caribou, grizzly bears, wolves, musk oxen, peregrine falcons and more, which you’re likely to spot as you raft 60 miles down the river – meeting hulking blue walls of broken-up ice as you go. You’ll also get to fun-run class III rapids, embark on mountain climbs and go on natural-history hikes – under the watchful Class III is the eye of an expert guide. intermediate level in the international The icing on the cake? scale of river safety, On the last day, you’ll meaning you’ll need hike to a stunning to be prepared view of the Arctic to encounter numerous high Coast and the pack ice waves and currents. of the Arctic Ocean. NEED TO KNOW:

Nine nights from £4,393. 11-20 June 2018. arcticwild.com; Fly from London to Fairbanks from £869 return. skyscanner.com

IF YOU WANT TO SEE BEAUTIFUL LANDSCAPES… HIKING IN SEYCHELLES

(Chile) wherenext.com; (Morocco) Melvin Seale

◆ RATING: No beach bums here Yes, Seychelles has beaches, and yes, they are beautiful. But there’s far more to the archipelago than sea and sand – like its unparalleled biodiversity, from the coral reefs prime for snorkelling to the untouched forests ideal for exploring. One of the best ways to get yourself in amongst all that lush vegetation is to go on a six-hour hike across Silhouette Island to the Grand Barbe plateau organised by Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa, roaming through mangrove forests and stopping at those Insta-worthy beaches as you go. Depending on your fitness levels, you might even be faster than the giant

tortoises that reside on the islands. NEED TO KNOW: Stay from £275pn on a B&B basis. Hike prices start from £53pp. hilton.com; Turkish Airlines flies from Heathrow to Seychelles via Istanbul from £504 return. turkishairlines.com

TREK CLOUD FORESTS IN LAOS

◆◆ RATING: Not a walk in the park For urban bustle meets mystical cloud forest, head to Luang Prabang, Laos for a city break and book yourself onto Inside Asia’s Laotian forest trek. It’ll kick off with a historic tour of the ancient city before moving on to the region of Houaphan to gawk at ethereal cloud forest, trek thorough remote Khmu villages, go for a dip in the Tad Ang waterfall and camp overnight in bamboo huts. You’ll also stop at the Poung Nied salt lick, where you might spot wildlife including deer, bears and wild cats, er, licking the ground to get essential nutrients. You’ll also venture into two temple caves and visit a petanque tournament – which, as it turns out, is a game loved by Laotians. Yes, really. NEED TO KNOW: Nine-night itineraries start at £1,175 per person. insideasiatours.com; Fly from London to Luang Prabang from £755 return. skyscanner.com

MOUNTAIN BIKE IN PATAGONIA

◆ ◆ ◆ RATING: Are you crazy? Swap knackering yourself on your daily cycle through London for mountain biking over the lava fields of active volcanoes in Chilean Patagonia on H+I Adventures’ latest tour. Over 12 days you’ll cover more than 2,000km, from lakes and volcanoes to the spectacular Torres del Paine National Park, taking you through forests of bamboo and araucaria, hot springs, and Patagonian estancias along the way. Don’t worry, there’s more than a little R’n’R involved too, as you’ll get to sample fine Chilean wines, learn about the native Mapuche culture at a traditional dinner and gaze at the Milky Way in the crystal-clear night skies of Patagonia. Warning: your commute will suck even more when you get back. NEED TO KNOW: 11-night itineraries from £3,250 based on two sharing, excluding flights. mountainbikeworldwide.com; Fly from London to Temuco, Chile, from £909 return. skyscanner.com

IF YOU WANT TO SEE YOUR BREATH FREEZE IN MID-AIR… SKI TOURING IN NEW ZEALAND

◆ RATING: Just a bit chilly If skiing down neatly groomed pistes just doesn’t do it for you anymore, and you’re looking for a proper DIY adventure, try alpine ski touring. Think of it as a bit >


LEARN HOW TO SET UP YOUR OWN SLED, DRIVE AND CARE FOR HUSKIES, AND FISH IN ARCTIC LAKES ON A TRIP TO NORWAY > like a cross between backcountry skiing and mountaineering: you whack some skins on your skis (to enable you to walk uphill in them) and hike off-piste to find virgin snow – and escape the crowds and queues. Obviously ski touring’s possible anywhere with snow and mountains, but to experience it at its absolute best head to the extraordinary terrain of New Zealand. Unless you’ve already got serious skills and experience, you might want to venture out with Alpine Guides, whose experts run tours

around Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. NEED TO KNOW: Five-day packages from £984. alpineguides.co.nz; Cathay Pacific flies from Heathrow to Christchurch in a codeshare with Air New Zealand from £1,672 return. cathaypacific.com

GO DOGSLEDDING IN NORWAY

◆◆ RATING: Time to buy a warmer coat Realise your secret burning desire to become a musher – that’s the driver of a dog sled, if it wasn’t immediately obvious – on this six-day expedition through of Norwegian, Swedish and Finnish Lapland. The itinerary involves learning how to set up your own sled, drive and care for your team of dogs Sled dogs need a (Best. Holiday. Ever.), variety of qualities, including speed, as well as fishing from strength, endurance frozen lakes, watching and the ability to Arctic wildlife and resist cold. Most modern sled dogs potentially getting a are mixed-breed chance to the see the Alaskan huskies. Northern Lights. We weren’t joking about the coat, either – you’ll spend a few nights camping in the mountains, too. Or you could just snuggle up to your new furry friends… NEED TO KNOW: Five-night itineraries from £1,850. muchbetteradventures.com; Norwegian flies from Gatwick to Tromsø via Oslo from £321.90 return. norwegian.com

WINTER TREKKING IN MOROCCO

TRAILER DASH: [above] Call anywhere in Iceland home for the night with a Mink trailer; [right] endless opportunities for adventure in Scotland

◆◆◆ RATING: Safety equipment needed Morocco: known for mint tea, couscous and riads… And now your blood, sweat and tears as you climb North Africa’s highest peak, Mount Toubkal (a mere 4,167m high) in the depths of winter with Exodus Travel’s Mount Toubkal winter climb trip. Swerve the summer crowds of Marrakesh and head there in the colder months instead, when the bustling city and surrounding areas turn into a walker’s idea of heaven, with deserted trails, clear air and jaw-dropping views over the Toubkal Massif, as well as the emerald green Lac d’Ifni. You’ll need to be fit for

this one, but no previous winter walking experience at all is required. NEED TO KNOW: Eight days from £799, including flights. exodus.co.uk

IF YOU ONLY HAVE A FEW DAYS... CRYSTAL MAZE LIVE, LONDON

◆ RATING: Too lazy to leave London Adventure might not be your cup of tea, but we’ve still got your back with this day out – and you don’t even have to get yourself beyond the safe confines of the M25 in order to do it, either. Test your mettle (and probably your friendships) in the form of Crystal Maze Live’s new spinning planets game. Once you’ve entered the maze, you’ll make the dash through the Medieval, Aztec, Industrial and Futuristic adventure zones to get your hands on the all-important crystals.


NEED TO KNOW: From £54.50pp. the-crystal-maze.com

TRAILER CAMPING IN ICELAND

◆ ◆ RATING: Camping, but better We get it, you want to go camping but you don’t really want to get friendly with spiders and slugs. Enter these sweet-as-you-like teardrop-shaped trailers from camping pros Mink in Iceland, which come complete with wifi, a sound system and a swish openair kitchen so you can explore the wilds of Iceland without straying too far from the comforts of modern life. No matter how remote you get, the sturdy structure and thick tyres will handle both the roads and the gravel highlands with ease. The dealbreaker? The camping pods have glass roofs, so you’ll be able to watch the elusive Northern Lights without even getting out of bed, which sounds pretty ideal to us. NEED TO KNOW: Mink Campers are being

rented out with 4x4 vehicles in Iceland. From €237 per day. minkcampers.is; Wow Air flies from Stansted to Reykjavik from £69 return. wowair.com

A SCOTTISH WEEKEND CHALLENGE ◆◆◆ RATING: You’ll need to lie down Is your idea of the perfect holiday hiking, running and canoeing across a distance of 51km in just one weekend? Yeah, sure, ours too. But whatever floats your kayak, you’ve got to admit the chance to tackle some of Scotland’s beautiful glens, fells and dales in one hit sounds pretty damn cool. Igo Adventures’ Scotland Weekend begins with a 16km trail hike starting in Luss in Trossachs National Park, followed by an overnight camp in a remote bothy, before you canoe across Loch Lomond. Then hike up Ben Lomond. Oof. after that all you need to do is head back to camp, kick back and enjoy some Scottish hospitality – aka plenty of whisky

and haggis – which sounds like a damn good reason to take on this absolute stonker of a weekend in the first place. NEED TO KNOW: Two-night itinerary from £545. 18-20 May 2018. igoadventures.com; Ryanair flies from Stansted to Glasgow from £59 return. ryanair.com

IF YOU DON’T MIND GETTING SAND IN YOUR PANTS… MOUNTAIN BIKE SAFARI IN NAMIBIA ◆ RATING: Just a dusting Think ogling Africa’s wildest animals from the safe confines of a Jeep is cheating? Try this mountain biking safari around the hotspots of Namibia instead. You’ll pedal from the fog-shrouded beaches and desert of the Skeleton Coast to the Huab River, and the coastal town of Swakopmund to >


42 • EXPERIENCES • ACTION AND ADVENTURE

UNDER LOCH AND QUAY: [clockwise from main] Take to the water on Loch Lomond; spot wildlife from the saddle in Namibia; the Crystal Maze

> Etosha National Park and the salt and clay pans of Sossusvlei. The 12-day trip with Mountain Bike Worldwide lets you get up close and personal with the wildlife as you make your way around Namibia’s stunning natural scenery. And you don’t need to be a hardened veteran mountain biker, either – the itinerary is suitable for novices, so you can get properly acquainted with life on two wheels as you go. NEED TO KNOW: 11 nights from £2,590 per person. mountainbikeworldwide.com; British Airways flies from London to Windhoek via Johannesburg from £946 return. ba.com

ZIPLINING IN RAS AL KHAIMAH , UAE

◆◆ RATING: We hope you like heights Little did Westlife know in 1999 that we’d actually be able to experience flying without wings thanks to Ras Al Khaimah’s Jebel Jais zipline, where you zoom headfirst over ‘No tent, no matches, no sleeping a distance of 2.8km bag – no problem!’ at a height of 1,680m is how Ancient above sea level. You’ll Pathways describes take flight strapped this course, so be prepared. On the in a superman-style plus side, you can position, swooping probably pack light. over the landscape at speeds of up to 150km/h. Yes, really. It’s the only way to take in the unique scenery, even if you do need to pack an extra pair of trousers in case of an, ahem, accident. Because why

GO ON A 16KM TRAIL-HIKE, CAMP OVERNIGHT IN A REMOTE BOTHY, CANOE ACROSS LOCH LOMOND, THEN HIKE UP BEN LOMOND. EASY

would you just want to look at it, when you could fly across it instead? NEED TO KNOW: jebeljais.ae; Virgin Atlantic flies from Heathrow to Dubai from £288 return. virginatlantic.com

DESERT SURVIVAL IN ARIZONA, US

◆ ◆ ◆ RATING: Full-blown sandstorm It’s the end of the world as we know it, and you’re stranded in the wilderness without food, water or shelter. But you’re as cool as a cucumber about the whole thing, because you had the foresight to take on one of Ancient Pathways’ outdoor programs, ranging from desert to urban survival courses. Our choice? The Complete Survivor course, which will show you longterm strategies for living off the land, or the Knife-Only survival course, where you’ll learn how to build yourself a shelter, essential first aid and how to source food and water. Book now, and be very smug when the apocalypse rolls around. NEED TO KNOW: From $125; apathways.com; American Airlines flies from Heathrow to Phoenix from £697 return. americanairlines.co.uk ◆


ABTA No. Y6125


COLORADO • 45

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STATE OF PLAY Craft beers and hipster malls in Denver, wildlife watching and epic adventures in the Rockies, plus a 200 million-year-old mountainside concert venue. When it comes to the ultimate stateside destination, Colorado might just clinch the title…

9 hrs 45

London-Denver flight time

I

300

days of sun in Denver per year

T’S THE REAL thing,” boasts a washedout Coca-Cola mural as I whirr along the scorched tarmac of Denver’s Highland district in the back of an electric tuk tuk, passing stationary yellow school buses, sizzling-hot SUVs and a staggeringly long queue of punters outside a milk churn-shaped ice cream vendor. That being said, I’m starting to wonder if what I’m seeing is the real thing at all. It’s hot, I’m thirsty and I want nothing more than an ice-cold bottle of Coke. Suddenly, my driver brings me to a halt in front of a Ramada Super 8 hotel – a red and yellow-painted slice of Americana that pops out of the blue sky behind it like a >

348

craft breweries in Colorado

Words by TOM POWELL

Visit Denver

THE IN CROWD: Head to Denver’s River North district, nicknamed ‘RiNo’, for a street art fix and craft beers in warehouse bars.


GETTING THERE Norwegian offers low-cost long-haul flights from London Gatwick to Denver from £360 return. norwegian.com; For more information on Colorado, Denver and Estes Park, head to colorado.com, denver.org or visitestespark.com

LIGHT SHOW: [above] Downtown Denver’s Union Station is unmissable. Literally; [opposite, l-r] Red Rocks amphitheatre; Dream Lake in the Rockies

> heavily filtered Insta post. As I turn towards the downtown skyline, the sun beats down hard on my back, the heat caking my jeans to my calves and making it feel like the glue in my shoe soles is melting into the paving slabs beneath my feet. Did I mention it’s hot? I’m staring out across the neighbourhoods of Denver with the CanAm Highway flowing steadily beneath me, twinkling in the sun: Lower Downtown is right ahead of me, the up-and-coming street art-covered district of River North (or RiNo, as in rhino) is way out to my left, and just visible beyond the Pepsi Center, the amusement park and the Broncos football stadium, there’s Colfax Avenue – the 26-mile-long former artery through the city

once described by the late Hugh Hefner as the “longest, wickedest road in America”. Seems he wasn’t one for sticky-floored dive bars, music venues and glorious plates of junk food. His loss. “They say we’ve changed the state bird to the crane because you see so many of them building in Denver right now,” says my driver, with whom I’ve skittered along suncharred boulevards, passing whopping-great Whole Foods Markets and the heady scent of hot dogs around the ballpark on the way to this unlikely viewpoint on the edge of the city centre. And he’s not wrong – Hefner’s low view of Colfax aside, this is a city on the up, literally. From the blocky modern condos springing out of old industrial sites on the edge of town to the trendy new-build hotels and chi chi redevelopments of buildings like Union Station downtown, everything feels like sun-soaked old America licked with a pleasing amount of digital-age lustre.

Denver these days is a place full of hipster malls fashioned out of former factories and shipping containers. It’s fuelled by amber ales, pale ales, bodacious West Coast-style ales and malty East Coast-style ales. It’s full of bars and breweries and bottle shops selling all these ales. And thankfully, besides the beers, the food markets, the small-run clothes stores and open-air art galleries that riddle its outskirts, this modern metropolis has so far managed to keep itself a lot less pretentious than some of the more testing bits of Shoreditch. Talk to any local and it seems that every waiter, shop assistant and, er, electric tuk tuk driver has a more important side project like acting, music-making or (you guessed it) brewing. But how is such a lust for the good things in life – and the dogged positivity it takes to hang onto your dreams in spite of your day job – all possible? I’d wager it’s because this city gets 300 days of sun each year, has an elbow in some of the most exciting beer-making history on the planet, and just happens to be a state that sells marijuana for personal consumption completely legally. That said, aside from the occasional passing bud-friendly Loopr bus and ‘Clean Colorado: Sponsored by Starbuds Dispensary’ road sign on the highway out of town, you wouldn’t necessarily notice. Pristinely clean and perfectly balanced, this is certainly a city full of meticulously organised vapers, rather than the pizza-troughing, booze-slopping, hard-partying dudes you’d associate with US stoner movies. The real draw to Essentially a this mile-high city is cannabis-friendly sightseeing bus that another natural high runs different routes altogether, one that around the city, the rumbles quietly up Loopr has an app that tells you when from New Mexico to it’s coming, and British Columbia in where it’s going. Canada, forming a


COLORADO • EXPERIENCES • 47

distant but ever-present backdrop: the Rocky Mountains. These mountains are in the culture and nomenclature of this entire region: they’re the reason the hipsterville-USA town of Boulder – full of skaters, young folks in yoga gear and ethical outdoors stores – got its name. They’re the reason why Denver is home to one of the biggest REI backcountry gear stores in the States, complete with a vast indoor climbing slab that puts most UK walls to shame. They’re also why people say kids born at Colorado hospitals burst into the world wearing Osprey backpacks and Patagonia trucker caps, supping milk from the bitey straw of a Camelbak. OK, that last one was a lie, but you catch the drift: here, in the biggest city on this 3,000-mile-long mountain range, the outdoors rule. And that’s exactly why we roll straight up to the mountain town of Estes Park from Norwegian’s inaugural flight from Gatwick to Denver, tracking the old road through old-school frontier towns with old-school frontier town names like Lyons and Hygiene, and passing movie prop-sized boulders along the Little Thompson River on our way. As the hazy mid-afternoon sun begins its slow arc down behind the continental divide, numerous nameless peaks wrap their way around the sides of the van, forcing me to slide back in my seat and crane my neck sideways just to see the brooding skies and daylight above them. Travellers, take note: if

RIDING THROUGH ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK ON HORSEBACK, YOU’RE FORCED TO TAKE THINGS AT A SLOWER PACE you ever plan to ride shotgun in the Rockies, make sure you rent a car with a sunroof. As far as mountain towns go, Estes Park packs quite the pedigree. Sure, it’s not known for its skiing like Aspen, Breckenridge or Vail further south (although the winter snowshoe scene here is meant to be nothing short of exceptional), but it is home to the forwardthinking Elkins whiskey distillery, elite bigwall climber Tommy Caldwell and – come the rut in early autumn – hundreds of horny elk. It’s those last Coloradans we see first, just as we pull into town in search of a meatloaf dinner, a couple of swigs of Elkins’ oaky, infused-via-ultrasound Colorado whiskey and a good night’s rest. Right now there aren’t loads of the guys with antlers making themselves known, although apparently they do become fixtures in gardens, parkland and (in our case) the planted-up roundabouts in the centre of town throughout September and early October. Our customer is loping around the dual-carriageway, tired from all the randiness, and bleating desperately in a last-gasp search for a mate. It’s 4pm in Estes Park, but this feels like 4am in the club and this young buck is possessed with the energy

of a drunk bloke who’s just realised he’s going home alone again. We retreat. The next morning we’re up at the crack of dawn; it’s crisp, cold and feels about a thousand miles from the heat of downtown Denver. Walking onto the forecourt of the Ridgeline Hotel is like stepping into the centre of a shallow bowl hewn from the mountains around me. Before I know it, I’ve been whisked out of town past sleepy diners, turn-offs to lakeside hiking trails and deep into Rocky Mountain National Park. We hop out of the van on the edge of an elk-filled valley to the buzz of a nearby campground and the ho-hum sighs of horses in the nearby corral. The sun shafts gently through the pines and the clouds move quickly above the mountains, but there’s little time to admire the view – we’ll get a better view from the saddle, anyway. Once I’ve clambered onto the back of my lazy-looking steed, I immediately begin to see the appeal. Riding through the US’s third-most-visited national park on horseback, you’re forced to take the world at a slower pace, appreciating the smaller, finer bits of nature from a slightly higher vantage >

(Station) Teri A. Virbickis/Getty; (lake) Ann Schonlau; (Red Rocks) Jason Bahr/Getty


48 • EXPERIENCES • COLORADO

DEER IN THE HEADLIGHTS: Elks in the Rocky Mountains. In early autumn, the deer often stray into local towns, along roads and into people’s gardens

towns. And it was this sense of chilled-out sublime that I found the next night at Red Rocks, a natural amphitheatre carved slowly into the hills outside Denver over the last 200 million years. Nowadays, the space is fitted with 70 rows of bleachers that provide space for over 9,000 beer-swilling punters to listen to tunes and swoon at the scenery. While it was Muse that entertained us on stage for the night, the thing that sticks in my mind isn’t a particular song, moment or visual effect. Instead, it’s the sight of a nimble coyote slinking up the side of the rocks, ignoring droves of gig-goers and signs telling it not to climb. Even here – surrounded by merch stands, hotdog vendors and guys wearing gargantuan backpacks of Colorado beer – we’re in a wild, historic place, a place that’s just as much of a landmark as Longs Peak or the pine-filled valley of Moraine Park. And that’s the thing about Colorado: its parks, its wilderness and its city streets are just like that faded Coke mural I clattered past on my e-tuk ride – they’re age-old, they’re iconic and more than anything else, they’re the real thing. ◆

WHERE TO STAY THE RIDGELINE HOTEL, ESTES PARK Refurbished in 2017, this central Estes hotel has great mountain views, a downstairs alehouse and easy access to everything the town has to offer, from Rocky Mountain National Park to Elkins Distillery and the Stanley Hotel, a supposedly haunted property which inspired The Shining. From £70pn. ridgelinehotel.com

THE KIMPTON HOTEL BORN Right next to Denver’s bustling new Union Station development, and minutes from shopping and dining district Larimer Square, this contemporary bolthole has all the frills you’d expect of a high-end city retreat, including Citizen Rail – a restaurant that specialises in meat cooked on its wood-fired grill. From £168pn. hotelborndenver.com

Weaver Mutlimedia Group/Matt Inden

> point. Bluebirds burst from the shrubbery around my stirrups and mule deer hide, pointy ears peeking out behind boulders yards from the trail. And then there’s the mountains: distant, looming and near panoramic. The mountain views take your breath away, and not just because the altitude (two-times the height of Ben Nevis at its lowest) makes the air pretty thin for a Brit. It’s also because there are just so many peaks to ogle, from plump gravel mounds to the intimidating, diamond-faced slab of Longs Peak, which rises to a mighty 14,259ft, making it what Coloradans term a ‘fourteener’. And there’s nowhere better to see a few more fourteeners than on Trail Ridge Road, an epic mountain-top drive through the park’s alpine tundra from east to west that’s packed with switchbacks, jaw-dropping vistas and (if you’re particularly lucky) bighorn sheep. Hopping out of the van on the road’s lower reaches and scrambling down a steep gravel slope to get the perfect shot of the mountains unfolding across the other side of the valley, my phone flies out of my hand and skims face-first through the scree. By the time I pick it up, it’s a battered, gibbering mess that’s firing out emojis by the hundred through Kansas, Missouri, Kentucky and Virginia before crossing the Atlantic to bemuse my friends and family back home. No perfect holiday snap then, I think, resolving that the mountains must have conspired to make me switch off. Thankfully, this nature-imposed detox helps colour Estes even more – with the air rattling into your lungs and nothing When it comes to to distract you venues with real ‘wow’ factor, Red (except perhaps your Rocks is hard to inadequate kayaking beat, and has played ability), there’s no host to some pretty choice but to sit back high profile performers, including and admire the view. The Beatles. This is the thing about Colorado – you could just as easily spend your time doing little more than soaking up an atmosphere as you could spend your time hopping between bars, music venues and laid-back mountain


Rohan and Eagle Creek. Perfect travelling companions. Sometimes taking less allows you to do more. And if Rohan offers the most comprehensive range of highly packable clothing in the world, then Eagle Creek provides the most organised way to pack and carry it, with innovative and practical products. There’s a great range of functional luggage, clever Pack-ItTM organisers and handy accessories.

Dedicated Eagle Creek floor at our new Covent Garden store. We’re opening a brand new flagship store in London on 5 March. It will be the largest UK shop for Eagle Creek and have a whole luggage floor in the basement. Our knowledgeable team look forward to welcoming you soon at: 11 Mercer Street, London WC2H 9QE. Tel: 020 7240 2551.

HOW TO BUY Online: Visit rohan.co.uk  In-store: at one of over 50 shops   Phone: Call 0800 840 1412


THE NETHERLANDS • EXPERIENCES • 51

Words by ROB CROSSAN

Allard Schage/Alamy

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EXPERIENCES

TIME TO GO DUTCH The Netherlands wouldn’t top many lists of must-visit foodie destinations, but from cheese and wine to Michelin stars and microbreweries, it’s brimming with delicious produce to get your teeth into – you just need to know where to look…

8 hrs

Sailing time from Harwich

13 million

bikes, 16.5 million people

SAY CHEESE: No, it’s not a dream, this is Alkmaar Cheese Market, where huge wheels of the good stuff have been traded for 400 years. Needless to say, it’s a must-visit

]

30 million

pounds of cheese made per week

M “

ILK, CHEESE AND a little bit of DNA, that’s the secret if you really want to know.” Math Bollen is, like pretty much every man (and no small percentage of women) in these parts, looking down on me. At a shade above six foot he’s actually a relatively diminutive inhabitant of what is, officially, the tallest nation on earth. Ruddy of cheek and humble in his attire of pressed black cords and a battered-looking windcheater, Math sweeps his hands across a vista that includes one of the rarest sites in Holland – a gently undulating hill. “We’re not as flat as you think,” he tells me. “I’ve told you the secret of how we’re so tall. But there’s plenty more that you still don’t know about our dairy and our DNA.” Bollen is the owner of Hoeve Nekum, one of the oldest of the now 60-strong >


DUTCH IS LIFE: [above] Maastricht is a good place to seek out traditional dishes; Brouwerij de Molen in Bodegraven has its own brew café

> collection of Dutch vineyards. Founded in 1988 (at a time when there was just one vineyard in the whole of the Netherlands), he now produces a range of exquisitely zesty rieslings and biscuit-crisp bruts which I try in the small tasting room of the medieval farm house that he calls home. “Of course, our production is still quite small,” Bollen admits, as he proffers me a hefty tray of hams, cheeses and breads. Although it’s still “We don’t export a small producer compared to any of our wines to elsewhere, wine Britain. If you want to production is try the things that we growing in the make here, then you Netherlands. There are now 180 comhave to come here.” mercial vineyards. Math may have been referring to wine. But he could just as easily be talking about any element of Dutch food and drink, because as much as we budget-flighthopping, pan-European itinerants may be well-versed in German meats, French haute cuisine and Belgian beers, the lack of interest in the cuisine of the Netherlands is almost total. Even London, a veritable periodic table of restaurants serving every element of global cuisine, can’t muster up more than the odd,

appalling, Dutch Pancake House – a concept about as authentically Dutch as a plastic tulip in a petrol station forecourt. Yet, as endless skies sprawl across a landscape of pin-sharp church steeples, silver and grey dykes, crouched farmsteads and fields of an almost luminescent green veneer, I begin to realise why this nation’s dishes and drinks look set to, unfairly, remain on the culinary periphery. Because, for the Dutch, celebrity, fame and any kind of overt ostentation and bragging is utter anathema to the national character. Basic art history tells you this. While Caravaggio was using shape shifting light to dramatic effect in Italy and Hogarth was crafting his vivid portrayals of vice and sleaze in London, the Dutch were in the middle of an infinitely more subtle Golden Age. Calvinism forbade religious pictures so the likes of Johannes Vermeer, Paulus Potter and Frans Hals created wistful, pastoral and achingly beautiful depictions of milkmaids, local dignitaries, children taking piano lessons and typically low-key streetscapes. Bucolic without ever quite succumbing to kitsch, these works are, centuries later,

still the canvas for the Dutch character once you travel outside the relative bombast of Amsterdam. It’s only outside the bigger cities that the true pleasures of the Dutch larder reveal themselves. In the tiny town of Bodegraven – all pristine windmills and harmonious civic rectitude – I bite into satsuma-sized balls of two-year-aged gouda cheese at the family-run De Graaf farm, followed by a midday bottle of gin and tonic-flavoured beer (named Quirks & Quinine) at the Wonka-esque Brouwerij de Molen, which has produced more than 600 different beers over the course of the last decade. In Thorn, a village whose medieval centre is painted entirely white, Charlie, the manager of homely Brasserie Soof, hands me an enormous slice of vlaai cake, the Dutch love child of milk tart and rice pudding, while explaining the tale behind the colour scheme. In a typically Dutch display of thrifty economic sense, when Napoleon’s forces tried to tax locals on the number of windows in their houses, the locals responded by painting their windows white and, in time, the rest of the house, too. After all, there’s no point in wasting that leftover paint, is there? And in Maastricht, located on the southern tip of the Netherlands, the outdoor tables along the cobbled side streets all appear to be groaning under the weight of platters of local pork head cheese cold cuts, spicy mustards and steaming bowls of mysteriously dark and viscous zuurvlees, a beef stew rich with cloves, bay leaves, apple syrup, gingerbread and vinegar. Nowhere is too far away in the Netherlands, a nation barely half the size of the Republic of Ireland, yet to get to Edwin Vinke’s two-Michelin-star restaurant De Kromme Watergang requires heading out to the wind-blasted outer edges of Zeeland, a region where only a fiendishly complex network of dykes prevents semi-permanent submersion in water.

IN THE TOWN OF BODEGRAVEN I BITE INTO SATSUMA-SIZED BALLS OF GOUDA FOLLOWED BY GIN AND TONIC-FLAVOURED LOCAL BEER


THE NETHERLANDS • EXPERIENCES • 53

(Grote Gracht)Scott Hortop Travel/Alamy; (Molen) Stefan Segers

Once ensconced inside the white-walled, cosy environs of the former nursery school, which seats 40 diners at a convivial squeeze, the feeling was akin to being strapped into an ejector seat (albeit a sublimely comfy brown leather one), waiting to be blasted into Vinke’s world of entirely locally sourced produce from the surrounding sea, rivers, lakes, marshes and his own kitchen garden. Meaty, puck-sized local scallops with avocado and cucumber, followed by tarragon, tomato, black olives, fennel and blowsy smoked whelks set the pace for the utterly unique main course of a large, whole carrot that had been smoked to the point where it tasted exactly like an unctuous frankfurter sausage. The latter is so authentically porky that Vinke is currently in the process of creating a version to be sold in supermarkets to vegetarians wanting a meat-like (yet totally meat-free) hit. At De Kromme Watergang it comes served with sea buck and crispy chicken butt.

Not, you didn’t imagine it – that’s chicken butt. Peanut-sized curlicues of foie gras-like soft meat, scattered like confetti over the carrot sausage. “Things are changing at last,” Vinke tells me as he emerges from the kitchen after service; tattoos of local birds swooping down his arms and salt-and-pepper stubble framing his lean jawline. “You can actually change a region,” he insists as the rain starts to lash against the windows, the fire place spits and licks amber flames and the mist begins to make me feel that the whole of Zeeland has become untethered from the rest of Holland. “I think ‘top chef’ is a dreary word,” Vinke continues with typical native modesty. “I believe that the top of something is so narrow, only one person can stand on it – if he can keep his balance, that is. Perhaps what we should be saying is ‘one of the better cooks’, instead. ◆ For more information go to visitholland.nl

HOW TO GET THERE Stena Line (stenaline.co.uk) sails from Harwich (the port is an 80-minute train ride from London Liverpool Street) to Hook of Holland. An overnight crossing starts from £59 for a car plus driver.

Canal cruises for everyone !

BLUEBOAT.NL

Departures from Stadhouderskade

*opposite Hard Rock Cafe *opposite Heineken Experience


THE SKY’S THE LIMIT Imagine eating incredible food designed by an award-winning chef, seated 100ft in the air above London Drink in the capital’s stunning skyline while savouring an unforgettable meal at our unique Sky Table, suspended from a crane, where our team prepares everything from breakfasts to sunset dinners

LONDON’S MOST TALKED-ABOUT DINING EXPERIENCE

AN EXTRAORDINARY EVENT This summer, you can take to the sky with a head chef, sommelier and waiting staff for a once-in-a-lifetime gastronomic occasion that will give you a whole new perspective on dining in the city DATE: 5 – 15 July VENUE: Upper Ground,

South Bank, London SE1 9PP Bookings open 21 March exclusively at eventsinthesky.co.uk

- by -


NERETVA, CROATIA • 55

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OFF THE BEATEN TRACK Forget what you think you know about Croatia and head to the Neretva Valley region, where the vibe is laid-back, epic scenery provides the perfect backdrop for adventure sports, and you might just be the only tourist in town…

2hrs 40

London to Dubrovnik flight

P

54 miles

Dubrovnik to Neretva Valley

LATES SPILL OUT of the restaurant’s kitchen. Octopus salad drenched in local olive oil; dark and creamy squid ink risotto with a side of battered mussels; and, to finish, a platter that buckles under the weight of plump nectarines. Nearby a group of old fellas soak up the last of the day’s rays, playing cards beneath the shade of an olive tree. A ginger cat swaggers along to Leonard Cohen’s monotone grumble and the church bells mark 8pm. “Neretva is the real Croatia,” my new friend and guide Vedran Jurinovic tells me as I sit gawping at the dishes in front of me. “Without another tourist in sight.” >

11°c

Average temp in March

Words by HANNAH SUMMERS Goran Afarek/Alamy

PASTURES NEW: The mouth of the Neretva river. The area around the river is dotted with pretty villages virtually untouched by tourism


> Here in the sleepy town of Opuzen, buried in the Neretva Valley 86 miles south of Split and 54 miles north of Dubrovnik, I haven’t seen another traveller – let alone a crimson-faced Brit – for days. So while my peers are ladding it up at a nearby techno festival, spraying magnums of champagne over yacht decks littered with giant inflatable flamingos, or geeking out over a stone that featured in season two, episode 876 of Game of Thrones, I’m discovering an untouched, achingly pretty and very different side of

Croatia altogether. Thank God. What I’d hoped would be a trip full of blazing sunshine, beaches and soft adventure had started several days earlier, when I first arrived in Opuzen and met 30-somethingyear-old Vedran, who, along with running tour company Explore Neretva, also doubles up as a personal Opuzen has all the trainer and aspiring good looks and town mayor. Take a charm that appeal stroll around Opuzen to tourists with the and you’ll see his bonus of not being full of them – head face plastered across to this pretty, historcampaign posters ical town before the stuck on numerous secret is out. lamp posts (mostly located outside his parents’ house), and a community that virtually bows in his presence. He’s everywhere. While at first glance Opuzen may seem a little subdued – I count five dogs and ten old men snoozing in the sunshine in one

40-metre stretch – a short walk reveals that’s just part of its charm. There are also some lovely quirks: “This is the bridge where they hold the world coffee cupthrowing festival,” Vedran tells me, pointing at the topaz-coloured river water. “I was the world champion in 2007, with 69.5 metres. Here’s my prize.” He digs out his mobile

THE NERETVA VALLEY USED TO EXIST AS A SWAMP, BUT NOWADAYS IT’S A FERTILE TAPESTRY OF EMERALD AND SAPPHIRE HUES


Hannah Summers

phone and shows me a picture of a T-shirt. Elsewhere, black and white street art coats crumbling walls draped with flouropink bougainvillea. In a pretty town like this the painting could be an eyesore, but it isn’t; in fact, it’s just one of the many pieces from last year’s street art festival. Today the bench beneath acts as a place for the town’s elderly residents to soak up some rays – and have a little smooch. I could happily spend days guzzling cheap beers beside the creamy-white stone buildings of Opuzen’s main square, or jumping off the river bank into the vodkaclear water, but I have some exploring to do. It starts with a kitesurfing session on

Opuzensko Ušće beach, a long, windbreezed stretch of fudge-coloured sand that’s a pilgrimage destination for some of the world’s top athletes. With the help of Ivica, a kite-surfing pro (and a dead-ringer for Hugh Jackman), I learn the basics of flying a giant kite. Its retro 1980s colours swoop through a cornflower-blue sky dotted with pinks, purples and oranges, before the fabric disappointingly plummets to the ground, landing in a crumpled pile of defeat. We repeat the entire process more than 20 times. Unperturbed, I decide to do much better at my next activity. While 50 years ago the Neretva Valley used to exist as a swamp,

GREAT PLAINS: [above] Neretva’s rural landscape is prime territory for farming and exploring; [opposite top & bottom] pretty villages with not a soul in sight

nowadays it’s a fertile tapestry of emerald and sapphire hues that’s best explored by water. Vedran and I clamber awkwardly into a two-person kayak and slowly set off from Opuzen, heading inland where narrow sundoused channels wiggle their way through swaying mangroves. Beside me the branches of fruit trees dangle into the water, their Trump-coloured tangerines begging to be picked. I oblige, then sneak off another. Two hours later we emerge onto the >


> silent and still Kuti Lake, the soft-grey cliffs that cup its farthest side reflected in the shimmering water. Save for a couple of birds – there are 300 species here – we are the only people here. It’s intoxicating. But epic, unspoiled scenery isn’t the only reason we’ve ventured this far into the valley. We paddle down a mangrove-lined channel and arrive at a tiny farm house where Vedran’s mum, Niveska, is charging about the kitchen. Apron flapping, hair humidity-frizzed, she emerges from the house and presents us with Neretva’s local delicacy: frogs’ legs. With a side of eels. I politely tuck in, then surprise myself when I reach for seconds. The frogs’ legs are lightly battered and squeezed with lemon, while the eels, caught by Vedran’s dad and eight-year-

WE CYCLE ALONG GRAVEL TRACKS, THROUGH VINEYARDS AND FIELDS FULL OF WATERMELONS AND TANGERINE TREES old nephew just hours before, are cooked in a stew with tomato and chilli. With a large glass of višnjeva (a homemade cherry The marshy condiliqueur) and another tions of Kuti Lake make it a great place of red wine produced for bird spotting, but at a vineyard just a it’s not just wildlife few miles away, I find that thrives here – the lush terrain is myself enjoying it ideal for growing a lot more than I’d plenty of fruit, too. anticipated.

The following day calls for more adventure. For all the miles of water, one of the best ways to explore the region is by bike. We chuck them in the back of Vedran’s pickup and start the vertiginous ascent to the sun-scorched forest by the hilltop fortress of Smrdan Grad. A tiny church dating back to the mid-1800s marks our starting point, and we rattle along the gravel track at speed, soon meeting a smooth tarmac road, which winds through


NERETVA, CROATIA • EXPERIENCES • 59

vineyards and fields full of watermelons and trees loaded with tangerines. We emerge at a remote field where Vedran’s friend Marco is feeding his four baby donkeys. Their soft, fuzzy hair is lightly ruffled by the breeze, their legs spindly beneath their pot-bellied bodies. I lunge in for a hug. For all the sweat-inducing fun, the Neretva Valley is a place that offers a whole lot more than outdoorsy adventures. This region was once peppered with ancient cities, and in the nearby town of Narona I satisfy my Roman history needs with a wander around the Narona Archaeological Museum. Inside a vast floodlit room, a bunch of headless white marble statues stand in a crowd. The jury’s out on their background but, according to Vedran, a local man had the fright of his life when his rowing boat bumped into a headless figure

HIT THE DECK: [left] The Neretva River; [below] we reckon you’ll be ok to head to this Neretva beach bar without booking; [right] friendly local donkeys

sticking out of the water. Enough history; sunshine beckons. As well as remaining basically invisible to the tourist brigade, the Neretva region has also escaped any signs of mass-market hotels and chain restaurants. I’m staying in a pretty village called Blace, where my simple apartment sits virtually on the water. Within metres of the front door is There’s a population a stone sunbathing of roughly 200 people in this tiny deck, lapped by village, but what it jade-coloured sea. lacks in residents it Tiny wooden boats more than makes up for in sand – the bob on the water and beach up the road is white-washed houses absolutely huge. dot the coastline like sugar cubes. After a morning of activities it’s the perfect place to churn through book after book, hopping off the deck for the occasional dip in the sea when I need to cool off. The best bit? There isn’t another soul in sight. I spend the last day of my trip floating around in the sea on my back, soaking up

the sunshine, silence and idyllic views. You can take your yacht parties, beachside festivals, crowds of tourists and city tours. For now, at least, I have this tiny patch of Croatia all to myself, and I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be. ◆ Explore Neretva offers tours from £36 a day and can arrange apartment accommodation from £25 a day. exploreneretva.com

(river) Croatian National Tourist Board; (beach) Boris Kacan/Croatian National Tourist Board


COSTA RICA • 61

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ON THE CREST OF A WAVE The beach resorts of Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula are some of the country’s most popular holiday spots, but if you’re after something a little different, venture south to discover sleepy surf towns and the area’s indigenous Chorotega people

17hrs 30 Travel time from London

T

28°C

Average temp in March

HE SATNAV DIRECTED us off the main road and down a track running through thick forest. Dirt roads weren’t unusual in this part of Costa Rica, but what came next was: the track disappeared into a shallow river, before emerging on the opposite bank some 20 metres away. I stopped the 4x4 and got out to investigate. A builder, working on a nearby house, shouted his advice. “Just go straight,” he said, “Don’t stop and you’ll be fine” As if to prove his point, another 4x4 hurtled down the track, paused briefly, then made steady progress through the current >

80 miles

of beach on the Pacific coast

Words by ASHWIN BHARDWAJ Robert Harding/Alamy

GET ON BOARD: Surfers at Playa Guiones on the Nicoya Peninsula. The area is popular thanks to its Pacific waves and laidback beach vibes


POT LUCK: [left] Learn to make traditional Chorotegan pottery at a local workshop; [opposite, from top] off-road in Montezuma; Punta Islita beach

> before climbing up and out on the other side. “See!” the builder said, giving us a thumbs-up, “Pura vida!” I returned the ubiquitous gesture (pura vida literally means ‘pure life’, but you’ll see it and hear it everywhere in Costa Rica to express any kind of positivity), switched into a low gear, crossed my fingers and then ploughed straight into the water. Over the last 100 years, Costa Rica has raced from being the poorest country in Central America to the most developed. Tourism has been key to that growth, with visitors coming from across the world to see its mountains, jungles and wildlife.

But the Nicoya Peninsula, in the country’s northwest, rarely features in nature documentaries. That’s because it has no active volcanoes and, with little rain from November to April, no rainforest either. It does, however, have long beaches and consistent heat, making it a favourite winter

escape for Americans. There are direct flights from the United States to the city of Liberia, and from there it’s a reasonably short dash to Playas Hermosa, Grande and Tamarindo. While luxurious, these areas don’t offer anything different to most tropical beach resorts, but you only need to drive an hour south to find a very different side to the peninsula. The indigenous people of the Nicoya Peninsula are the Chorotega, and they have more in common with the Maya of Mexico and Guatemala than they do with the hill tribes of Costa Rica’s mainland. The Chorotegan maize diet (originally derived from the Maya) is thought to promote longevity, and if you make it to 60 years old here, then you are more likely to reach 100 than anywhere else in the world. Matambu is Costa Rica’s largest Chorotega reserve, but you won’t find it on visitors’ maps. South of the main tourism hub, tarmac roads gradually become dirt tracks, and towns give way to villages of bright bungalows. “Tourism has a place here,” says Ezekiel Aguirre-Perez, a community leader in Matambu, “But it must be carefully managed. If you look around Costa Rica, you can see indigenous culture being commoditised.” Ezekiel lives in a modern home, but his pottery workshop is built in the traditional style. It’s a large, open-sided structure, with a steep roof made from leaves, filled with work in various stages of completion. “The whole community builds these houses together,” he says, “Then, when another person needs one, the whole community goes to build that, too. We call that attitude ‘mano vuelta’ and we should apply it to our tourism. “For example, if I teach a group of tourists how to make Chorotegan pottery, then someone else in the village can be cooking

TOURISM MUST BE CAREFULLY MANAGED – LOOK AROUND COSTA RICA AND YOU CAN SEE INDIGENOUS CULTURE BEING COMMODITISED


COSTA RICA • EXPERIENCES • 63

(Pottery) Thornton Cohen/Alamy; (Montezuma) Michelle Zassenhaus/Getty; (Punta Islita) Alex Robinson/AWL

a group dinner, or running a nature walk with another group. That way the whole community has a part. That’s mano vuelta.” Central Nicoya’s main industry is cattle farming. But, as the price of beef falls across the world, some ranchers have turned to tourism to make ends meet. Many haciendas now have as many guesthouses as they do stables, and Costa Rica’s cowboys, known as sabaneros, have to look after tourists as well as the horses. “You have to be willing to do whatever it takes,” says Ariel Gonzalez-Valberde, head sabanero at La Ensenada ranch, “And it’s worth it, because I love this life. Every day is different: one day I’m finding an injured bull in the forest; the next I’m teaching you about our plants and animals.” After helping Ariel saddle the horses, I joined him for the daily head-count. Riding up a ridge that looks down on the Gulf of Nicoya, we found the first of the estate’s five herds. Ariel began a series of low whistles, and the long-horned bovines stirred from the shade. The horses instinctively spread into line abreast, rounding up any cattle that slipped through the cordon. Doing my best to imitate Ariel, I whistled at a nearby bull, which just looked at me impassively, chewing its cud. I tried again, and this time drew the derision of some howler monkeys in the treetops. Eventually my horse, bored of my incompetence, It’s small, but it’s cantered towards the definitely perfectly formed, which is steadfast bull and why this once-sleepy drove him towards the surfing destination is rest of the herd. seeing a new influx “Don’t worry,” Ariel of visitors. Join them and thank us said, laughing, “It took for the tip-off later. me years to get it right. The cows won’t even respond to a sabanero from another district.” Further south, where the cows still didn’t understand me, we crossed the aforementioned river to reach Santa Teresa. Inaccessibility has given this town legendary status amongst backpackers, who come for the surf, yoga lessons and laid-back lifestyle. New regulations prevent development within 50 metres of the beach, but the town is still learning to cope with its popularity. Venus Moya grew up in the nearby fishing village of Mal Pais, and is delighted with the growing tourism, and the opportunities it

provides. She is head of marketing at the local branch of Selina, an Israeli-owned hostel chain that’s spreading across Latin America. “Hostels used to only employ locals as cleaners,” she says, “and give front-of-house jobs to backpackers. But the whole industry is improving. Selina gives internships to locals so they can build careers in hospitality, and we encourage our guests to do Community projects like beach clean-ups.” Entrepreneurial locals are catching on, too: over the road is a café serving delicious local food at half the price of Selina’s restaurant; it’s full of surfers who stay at the trendy hostel but still need to watch their pennies. For those with bigger budgets, Latitude 10° provides individual casitas and the best breakfasts in town. But there’s more to do than just surfing and yoga. Zip-lines are a thrilling way to

GETTING THERE TravelLocal’s online platform links travellers with local tour operators, providing tailor-made, authentic experiences that benefit local communities. TravelLocal offers a 15-night trip, featuring the Nicoya Peninsula, from £1,460pp. This includes some meals, excursions, a driver and guide. Fore more information, call 0117 325 7898 or visit travellocal.com

explore the forest canopy, and from nearby Montezuma, boats take you on day trips to nearby islands. Once there you can snorkel with turtles. At the right time of year you can even see humpback whales in the channel. The roads between Santa Teresa and Montezuma are not for the faint-hearted. Most visitors hire a quad bike or 4x4 to get around, and sometimes even that isn’t enough. On our drive to the airport, the sat nav took us back via the same route through the river. We waited patiently as a woman crossed on horseback. “I wouldn’t try, if I were you,” she said as she passed. “Last night, three cars got stuck and a tractor had to get them out.” We heeded her advice and went the long way ’round. A trip to the Nicoya Peninsula takes you well off the beaten track, but not every track is passable. ◆


LISBON, PORTUGAL • EXPERIENCES • 65

Words by HANNAH SUMMERS

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AHEAD OF THE CURVE Es s e n t ia ls gu ide: lisb o n, po rt u ga l

As the oldest city in Western Europe, Lisbon has long been a leading centre of culture, architecture and great food and drink. Throw provocatively named pastries and kitsch gift shops into the mix, and we say you’re onto a winner...

2 hrs 40

Flight time from London

Antoine Bussy

14°C

Average temp in March

1,355

miles away from the UK

MAKING WAVES: The gently undulating design of Lisbon’s new Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology was inspired by rippling water. Fancy


DO NOS ALIVE

Camping can be a slog, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Lisbon is home to some of the world’s best festivals – all of which take place without a mud-splattered tent in sight. Our pick is NOS Alive, a megafest that rolls out its faux-grass flooring every July. Rock up at around 4pm, chug your Sagres beer while shouting along to the bands (this year’s line-up includes The National and Pearl Jam), then roll back to your comfy hotel. You’ll feel almost fresh the next day. 12-14 July, tickets from £50. nosalive.com

CULINARY BACKSTREETS

Lisbon has been having a bit of a moment recently – which is great and everything, but it has left the central pavements a little… crowded. Escape the bumbag brigade and take a food tour with Culinary Backstreets. Your guide is city resident Celia Pedroso, who will help you find the best chicken shops, grimy (but great) bars and markets away from the throngs. You’ll swing by churches, eat provocatively named pastries (nun’s nipple, anyone?) and sip wine in some of the best retro restaurants the city has to offer. A 10am cherry liqueuer with a group of old fellas? Yes indeed. From £90. culinarybackstreets.com

MAAT

On your way back from the Jerónimos Monastery (don’t even think about not seeing it – even if you’re not that into architecture, 16th-century spikes and stone, it will still definitely impress) head to the new Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT). The spaceship-style structure sits right on the Tagus river, and is one of the latest projects from British architect Amanda Levete. Whether you’re a contemporary art buff or a complete and utter novice, the guided tour through the maze of galleries is an absolutely great way to leave with all the facts. maat.pt


LISBON, PORTUGAL • EXPERIENCES • 67

NEED TO KNOW

Firstname Hugo Macedo Surname

EasyJet flies from London Gatwick to Lisbon from £58 one-way. See easyjet.com for more information. If you want to twin your city break with a visit to Portugal’s popular south coast, it’s around a two-and-a-half hour drive from Lisbon down to the Algarve, and you can fly back to London Gatwick from Faro airport from £80 one-way with BA. See ba.com for more info.


STAY MEMMO HOTEL

There are two Memmo hotels in the city. Memmo Alfama is a dazzling-white boutique option with easy access to the hills and narrow streets of the historic Alfama district, while the more central Memmo Principe Real has rooftop views, a pool, stylish interiors, and you can mix up cocktails in your own room – ibuprofen not included. From £145 a night. memmohotels.com

PESTANA PALACE

The Pestana Palace is one of the most luxurious options in the entire city, and its location on a tranquil backstreet is perfect for escaping the crowds. The rooms come with high ceilings, and the corridors of the restored 19th-century building are filled with vintage lamps, velvet armchairs and paintings. Leave time for the incredible breakfast, which you can have in the dining room or shrub-filled gardens. Doubles from £200. R. Jau, 54, 1300-314. pestana.com

LX BOUTIQUE HOTEL

Right in the thick of the action, LX Boutique Hotel is a bright-blue hotel close to BaixaChiado metro station. Each room takes on a different Lisboa ‘theme’, with black and white prints lining entire walls, and shabbychic white wardrobes and beds. Super-cool staff are on hand to give you insider tips, and there’s always an entire platter of pastéis de nata tarts in the lobby, which might be the best added extra we’ve ever come across. Doubles from £91. R. do Alecrim 12, 1200-017. lxboutiquehotel.com


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Firstname Hemis / Surname Alamy


70 • EXPERIENCES • LISBON, PORTUGAL

SHOP LX FACTORY

Whether it’s gifts for friends or simply stocking up on pretty knick-knacks, you should check out A Vida Portuguesa (‘the Portuguese life’). The floor-to-ceiling shelves in this stylish store are crammed with colourful packages of traditional Portuguese products, and you can stockpile ketchupred tins of sardines, local olive oils and kitsch, vintage-style bars of soap that look so good that you’ll never actually use them. There are now several store locations in the city so you’ll always be handily close to one. avidaportuguesa.com

FEIRA DA LADRA

You’ll have your pick of markets in Lisbon, but the lively flea market Feira da Ladra – also known as ‘Thieves’ market’ – is one of the oldest and biggest. Taking place every Tuesday and Saturday from dawn until dusk, it’s a great place to rifle through stalls filled with all sorts of antiques, clothes, tiles and books. Its location – close to the Monastery of São Vicente de Fora – makes it a great stop-off on your sightseeing list. Need a rest? Grab a refreshing white port and tonic in the square. Campo de Santa Clara, 1100-472

(Artist) ricardo junqueira

There’s a shop for everyone at LX Factory. These converted fabric factories have been brushed up into a hip cluster of cafés, boutiques and bars. Try Pura Cal for textiles, Ler Devagar for books and Landeau for the best chocolate tart you will ever eat. The street art-filled space is great for a wander, and Sunday is market day – have a rummage for vintage clothes and antiques. R. Rodrigues Faria 103, 1300-501. lxfactory.com

AVIDA PORTUGUESA


The Great British Escape Stoke Park is a luxury 5 AA Red Star Hotel, Spa and Country Club set within 300 acres of beautiful parkland and offers world-class sporting and leisure facilities.

Facilitiesinclude: include: Facilities Bedrooms and Suites • • 4949 Bedrooms and Suites Award winning Spa • • Award winning Spa hole Championship GolfCourse Course • • 2727 hole Championship Golf • 3 Restaurants and Bars, including Humphry’s (3 AA Rosette, fine dining) • 13 Tennis Courts (indoor, grass and artificial clay) • Indoor Pool • State of the art Gym with Fitness, Hot Yoga and SpinningStudios Studios Hot Yoga and Spinning hosting up to 50 classes per week hosting up to 50 classes per week • Crèche • Crèche • Games Room • Games Room • Playground • Playground

Situated 35 minutes from London and only 7 miles from Heathrow Airport makes Stoke Park an ideal location and perfect setting for stopovers and luxury breaks. For more information or to book, please contact our Reservations Team on 01753 717172 or email reservations@stokepark.com For Membership enquiries please contact our Membership Team on 01753 717179 or email membership@stokepark.com www.stokepark.com


72 • EXPERIENCES • LISBON, PORTUGAL

EAT AND DRINK BAIRRO DO AVILLEZ

Hotshot Portuguese chef José Avillez is churning out more restaurants than you can possibly handle in one trip, but if you do want to try, many are conveniently located under one roof at Bairro Do Avillez. Taberna, with its stool seating and legs of ham dangling from the ceiling, is great for informal small plates at lunch (try the exploding olives that pop in your mouth). R. Nova da Trindade 18, 1200-466. joseavillez.pt

TAPISCO

For value for money plus a well-heeled crowd, try new restaurant Tapisco in the Principe Real district. There’s an open-plan kitchen, counter seating and mammoth portions of Portuguese and Spanish dishes, like croquettes, pork with padron peppers and braised green peas with chorizo and slow-cooked egg. With a playlist of 1980s synth hits you may be reluctant to leave, but do stumble outside and hail a taxi for a nightcap at Procopio, a cosy, old-school bar with velvet armchairs and vintage lamps. R. D. Pedro V 8, 1250-093. tapisco.pt

LE CONSULAT

Part of the joy of a trip to Lisbon is strolling along the bar-crammed streets of Bairro Alto, dipping into whichever place is blasting your preferred tunes. For something more sophisticated, try Nova, a new wine bar packed with floor-to-ceiling bottles from lesser-known Portuguese producers. Nearby, the bar at Le Consulat hotel (the former Brazilian Embassy) has creative cocktails including the Vilma Goes to Hollywood (sparkling rosé and gin, served with rose petals). It ain’t cheap, but it is pretty. Praça Luis de Camões 22, 1249-190. leconsulat.pt


[ CRUISES ]

INSIDER’S GUIDE

In association with


CELEBRITY CRUISES • INSIDER’S GUIDE • 75

PROMOTION

Celebrity Cruises Miles of open blue water as far as the eye can see, sun-drenched decks and pools, a wealth of restaurants and bars within a few minutes’ walk from your spacious luxury room, taking you to some of the most beautiful and eclectic destinations on the planet – the idea of a cruise is one that’s coveted by many a holidaymaker. And what you were waiting for was that one ship that combines all of the above into one of the sleekest, most dazzling cruise liners in the world, you’ve got it, thanks to Celebrity Cruises’ new ship Celebrity Edge. Intrigued? Read on to explore...


SPOTLIGHT THE CELEBRITY EDGE

The Edge of Tomorrow The newest addition to Celebrity Cruises’ fleet marries cuttingedge design and modern luxury with top-end food, leisure and experiences. It’s cruising as you’ve never seen it before...

What if we told you that you could stay somewhere that could take you to some of the world’s most exciting holiday destinations; which features a wealth of

Discovering Eden A Hidden Paradise on board the Celebrity Edge

There’s a certain magic that happens when eating at a restaurant becomes an experience, and Eden – a chameleonic café, restaurant, drinking and performance space on board Celebrity Edge – epitomises that philosophy. Spanning Decks 4-6 and facing the sea directly, its atmosphere changes throughout the day, from lush and relaxing in the morning, playful in the afternoon and sinful after hours, while its experiences are designed to bring guests closer to the ocean setting. From its moving botanical-themed art inspiration to forward-thinking dishes that defy expectation, and the performance art that accompanies your meal, it’s a breathtaking way to go for dinner, just minutes from your cabin.

accommodation, from clean, minimalist rooms to opulent penthouse suites; which offered a staggering 29 drinking and dining options; and whose backdrop is a nearconstant view of the shimmering blue sea as far as the eye can see? You’ve just imagined a Celebrity Cruises holiday. And, with a beautiful new ship, Celebrity Edge, joining its fleet in 2018, there’s never been a better time to discover why going on a cruise might be the holiday of your dreams, without you knowing it. What Celebrity Edge brings to the Celebrity Cruises fleet, possibly above all else, is a breathtaking design flourish, from the hull to the rooms. The ship has been created with an unerring eye on an almost futuristic use of space, building on Celebrity Cruises’ characteristic bountiful food and drink offerings to create a ship that’s sure to excite inquisitive minds. Whether you’re just casting your eye around your suite or taking in interactive performance art at its restaurant and event space Eden, there’s as much to occupy the mind’s eye as there is to see and do, or eat and drink. The suites If you want to cruise in luxury, there’s no better offering on board Celebrity Edge than its range of suites. The Iconic Suites sum it up: for a start, their position high up at the top of the ship guarantee a real ‘king of the world’ feel from the off, with panoramic views all around the suites. An Iconic Suite will sleep six comfortably, with 1,880 sq ft of space, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a shower, whirlpool bathtub, butler’s pantry and more. And that’s just inside – outdoors there’s a sun deck, hot tub and more. And that’s even without mentioning the fact that with an Iconic


CELEBRITY CRUISES • INSIDER’S GUIDE • 77

PROMOTION

KElly Hoppen Recognise the name? It’s likely because the British designer has been at the forefront of the interior design industry for decades. Now, Kelly Hoppen MBE, along with an all-star team of architects and designers, has partnered with Celebrity Cruises on the Celebrity Edge. Hoppen has worked on the accommodation, including the Iconic Suites and Edge Villas. The designer is also the brains behind the Infinite Balcony in the Edge Stateroom – which is just as exquisite as it sounds. For more info: kellyhoppen.com

Suite comes access to a concierge service, the suite lounge, a pool bar and the suite’s dedicated contemporary restaurant Luminae. Want some more space? One of the two Penthouse Suites comes with even more floor space, plus walk-in wardrobes and a host of other mod cons. Put simply, there’s no more luxurious way to cruise on Celebrity Edge than this. The Edge Villas The Edge Villas, perched at the edge of the ship’s hull, offer a beautiful, secluded piece of luxury across two levels. Staying in one of the six villas – each of which sleeps four – is the best way of feeling close to the ocean. Each one has its own private balcony and

THE SUITE LIFE: [from top] An Edge Villa with its sea-facing plunge pool; the Suite Sun Deck is a beautiful, sun-drenched terrace for Suite guests

is equipped with a plunge pool, too. Plus, a personal butler service and direct access to the Suite Sun Deck are both included – perfect for those hazy, sunny afternoons, as well as the Luminae restaurant and the same concierge service that you can take advantage of with one of the Suites – all complimentary, and all only available to guests of the Edge Villas and the Suites. ◆ Find out more by calling your personal cruise specialist on 0800 240 4313, or take a virtual tour and read more about Celebrity Edge at celebritycruises.co.uk/edgerooms


SPOTLIGHT THE FOOD AND DRINK

A food lover’s paradise Dining on the Celebrity Edge can give you access to some of the finest food and drink you can imagine, with fresh produce, contemporary cuisine, world-class cocktails and fantastic wines across 29 venues

If there’s one thing you can be sure of on board Celebrity Edge, it’s that you’re never far from a fantastic restaurant or bar. Celebrity Cruises knows that perfectly judged and beautifully executed food and drink can make a holiday. That’s why, in addition to a wealth of options for accommodation, ranging from affordable, compact cabins to all-out opulent suites, there are a staggering 29 bars and restaurants on board the new flagship liner. The food offering on Celebrity Edge has been created by the brand’s Michelin-starred

chef Cornelius Gallagher to encompass everything from casual dining to speciality restaurants and international cuisines. The ship’s four main dining options are complimentary for all guests. These include the Italian-influenced Tuscan Restaurant;

Mediterranean food from Cyprus Restaurant; the new American-style Cosmopolitan Restaurant; and the modern French-style Normandie Restaurant. At each one, you can settle in knowing the bill’s taken care of before you dine (aside from drinks).

Celebrity Cruises knows that great food can make a holiday


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PROMOTION

There’s even more to included in the price, though: the Oceanview Café, Mast Grill, Spa Café & Juice Bar and Eden Café are perfect for a quick and easy snack or a spot of lunch. It doesn’t stop there, though – Celebrity’s classic restaurant Luminae is exclusive to Suite guests, and the spa-inspired Blu – which features light, vibrant, fresh cooking served alongside natural and biodynamic wines – is exclusive to Aquaclass guests. For adventurous diners, there’s a plethora of speciality restaurants available. From steakhouses and seafood bars to casual grill restaurants and a dining experience atop a giant cantilevered platform that snakes its way up the ship (yes, we’re serious), there’s something to suit every palate. And if you’re in the mood for a drink, one of its 11 bars and lounges will cater to every mood, whether you fancy a coffee in the morning sun, or a martini or tropical punch as it goes down. A whole host of food and drink options, all a stone’s throw from where you rest your head. That’s what we call a result. ◆ Find out more by calling your personal cruise specialist on 0800 240 4313, or go to celebritycruises.co.uk/edgedining

The venues Unique dining experiences on board Celebrity Edge Dinner on the Edge If this sounds like a nail-biting experience, fear not: Dinner on the Edge is so-called because of its glorious location that looks out onto the ocean. The experience is thanks to a true feat of engineering: a floating, cantilevered platform named the Magic Carpet. The platform rises up the ship, finishing its ascent at the very top. Raw on Five Mouthwatering fresh seafood is what’s on offer at Raw On Five, one of Celebrity Edge’s speciality restaurants. Think fresh oysters, scallop ceviche and sashimi, as well as steamed mussels and crab cakes, backed by an extensive sparkling wine, vodka and cocktail list and creative cocktails. Fine Cut Steakhouse One of life’s simplest pleasures is a beautifully cooked steak, and that’s what you’ll find at this US-inspired steakhouse. Try cuts like the tomahawk rib-eye (for two to share) or the prime strip steak, alongside cooked seafood dishes like pan-roasted lobster tail. Tuscan Restaurant Rustic Italian is the name of the game here, with Tuscaninspired pasta dishes, hearty stews and main course dishes, as well as classic aperitivo cocktails. Luminae Reserved for Suite Class guests, Luminae is a beautiful restaurant, with interiors designed by Kelly Hoppen, which serves elegant contemporary takes on classic dishes – think filet mignon, seared duck breast, roasted turbot and bucatini.


S P O T L I G H T T H E D E S T I N AT I O N S

all around the world Celebrity Cruises’ fleet traverses the length and breadth of the globe to more than 300 destinations across seven continents. Here’s a look at some standout destinations

ALASKA

CARIBBEAN

MEDITERRANEAN GALAPAGOS


CELEBRITY CRUISES • INSIDER’S GUIDE • 81

PROMOTION

Six of the best A look at some of Celebrity Cruises’ most iconic trips

NORTHERN EUROPE

The Mediterranean If you’re used to whirlwind city breaks on the continent and want to see more of it at your own pace, try a Mediterranean cruise. There are options that take in France, Spain, Italy, the Greek islands and more. Caribbean There’s a reason the Caribbean is one of the first places that spring to mind when you think of cruising. And with all-new trips launching on Celebrity Edge in 2019, there’s never been a better time to see these turquoise waters and white beaches for yourself. Northern Europe The exoticism of Scandinavia and Russia, from the fjords of Norway to the dazzling architecture of St Petersburg, makes Celebrity’s Northern Europe cruises a great option for those looking for some culture and wild beauty. Galapagos These islands, steeped in history and teeming with biodiversity, remain some of the least explored on the planet, and you can see them up close with one of Celebrity’s Galapagos cruises. The new ship Celebrity Flora, designed and built specifically for the programme and launching in 2020, will be a bastion of sustainable tourism.

ARABIAN GULF

Arabian Gulf Arabian cruises take in everything from the lush textures of India to the Suez Canal, Sri Lanka to the gleaming towers of the Arab Emirates. Alaska Going from Vancouver to some of the most far-flung Arctic destinations around the east coast of North America, an Alaskan cruise is a great way to get personal with some of the most beautiful unspoilt environments available to any traveller. For more information, call your personal cruise specialist on 0800 240 4313 or go to celebritycruises.co.uk/findacruise


www.boataffair.com


EXCURSIONS

85 South Dakota Tourism

97

The Checklist

Middle Sweden 108

114

The Intrepid Series

The Selector ◆

Rear View


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CHECKLIST

IN ASSOCIATION WITH TRUE TRAVELLER

[

EXCURSIONS

]

Chris Johnson

THE CHECKLIST

I

T’S HOLIDAY PLANNING season, which means it’s time to stock up on kit for the adventures ahead. Turn the page and you’ll find our pick of the best multi-purpose travel gear, our favourite headphones and a slick, speedy bike, so whatever you’ve got on the horizon, we’ve got you covered. But with all that cool new kit, you’ll need an equally cool bag to lug it around in, like the super light, ventilated and incredibly comfy Osprey Eja 48 backpack you can see detailed above. Packing = sorted. ◆

Travel insurance is always the last thing people think about when they’re planning a trip. Most of the time the trip goes well, nothing goes awry and everyone has a fantastic time. However, sometimes things can go wrong. It can be something straightforward like a delayed flight, a broken screen on an iPhone, or something more serious like an accident where you end up in hospital overseas. True Traveller, rated five star on TrustPilot, can be there with you should something happen. It’s easy to sign up, and you can take out cover to protect yourself in minutes, wherever you are. truetraveller.com


▶ COLUMBIA [

EXCURSIONS

OUTDRY EX LIGHT SHELL, £180:

]

THE CHECKLIST If Frodo Baggins can make it all the way to Mordor with just bare feet and a waistcoat, think how far you’ll be able to get with all this shiny new adventure gear…

Does what it says on the tin, with a waterproof outer that’s also breathable. Nice. columbiasportswear.co.uk

▶ KRONABY

APEX WATCH, £495:

Looks cool, does even cooler things. This watch syncs to your phone, tracks your steps, and never needs charging. kronaby.com

▶ STAY SIXTY BOTTLE, £29.95:

▶ OSPREY

EJA 48 BAG, £130:

Say bye to sweaty backs with this ventilated, ultra-lightweight backpack that’s tailored specially for women. ospreyeurope.com

Eco-friendly, easyclean and effective, this sleek bottle has a wide-open base for adding ice cubes and lemon slices. staysixty.com

▶ CRAGHOPPERS NOSILIFE FLEURIE PANTS, £65: More

than just trousers, these babies feature UPF 50+ protection and insect repellent. craghoppers.com

▶ INOV-8

ROCLITE 315, £130:

Be light on your feet with these good-looking, hard-working trainers, which are ideal for unpredictable terrain. inov-8.com


CHECKLIST • EXCURSIONS • 87

▶ PATAGONIA

▶ PETZL

GRITSTONE ROCK PANTS, £100: Built

TIKKA HEADLAMP, £30: The lightweight

for climbing and beyond, with a water-repellent finish and forgiving but durable construction. patagonia.com

and compact Tikka puts out 200 lumens at its brightest, making it a kitbag essential for any trip. petzl.com

▶ GREGORY SALVO 18, £60:

▶ BERGHAUS

Compact but techstuffed pack for lugging gear when you’re moving fast, with lumbar support and great ventilation. gregorypacks.com

FT18 SHOES, £120:

Gore-Tex waterproofing in a super-light and grippy package. Perfect for fast hiking in changing conditions. berghaus.com

▶ SURF PERIMETERS

THE PULSE, £130:

▶ WAKAWAKA POWER+, €69.95:

Wear it as a standalone or under a shell – either way this technical hoodie is at home by the sea or in the mountains. surfperimeters.com

Store solar energy then use it to power the built-in flashlight for 200 hours or charge your phone one and a half times. waka-waka.com

KIT FOR PURPOSE ▶ NIXON

MISSION SS, £389:

The world’s first adventure smartwatch is big enough (48mm) and tough enough to take whatever you throw at it. nixon.com

CHECKLIST

Chris Johnson

Packing light is essential when you’re on the hoof, but, let’s face it, keeping unnecessary kit to a minimum is harder than it looks. What happens if you get caught in a torrential downpour? What if you get a hot date and need to look smart? Luckily for you, we’ve tracked down the hardest-working gear around, from trousers that’ll take you from hiking through the jungle straight to the bar, to a neat gadget that’s both a torch and solar-powered charger, and a headtorch that’s, er, just a really good headtorch. Easy.


▶ B&O PLAY H9I, £449: Active noise cancellation, aluminium touch controls and 18 hours of battery life combine for heavenly high-end sound. beoplay.com

▶ URBANEARS

PLATTAN 2 BLUETOOTH, £85: Scandi

▶ DENON

▶ BRAINWAVZ

the dynamic, distortion-free sound Denon is famous for, wrapped up in a seriously good-looking package. denon.co.uk

You’re not likely to find a pair of earbuds that sound much better for less than twenty quid. We loves a bargain. brainwavzaudio.com

AH-C621R, £79: All

style and comfy on-ear design makes for a seriously sexy pair of wireless cans on a budget. urbanears.com

DELTA IEM, £16.27:

▶ SOL REPUBLIC AMPS AIR, £149.99:

These true-wireless earbuds charge in a portable case which’ll re-juice your mobile, too. Travel goals, sorted. solrepublic.co.uk

▶ SENNHEISER

CHECKLIST

PXC 550 WIRELESS, £329.99: External

touchpads and intelligent noise-cancelling profiles make for some seriously luxurious ‘phones. sennheiser.com


CHECKLIST • EXCURSIONS • 89

▶ BOSE

SOUNDSPORT, £149.95: In-ear hooks

mean you can carry Bose-quality sound with you, no matter where your adventures take you. bose.co.uk

▶ AQUAPAC

WATERPROOF HEADPHONES + ITUNES CASE, £29.99 + £34.99: Fully-wa-

terproof buds for your newly waterproofed phone. Nice. aquapac.net

▶ HAPPY PLUGS EARBUD PLUS WIRELESS, £49.99:

No-strings-attached sound for the music-loving traveller on a budget. happyplugs.com

NEW ’PHONES, WHO DIS? ▶ SKULLCANDY METHOD SPORT, £49.99: Loud-look-

ing, affordable wireless earbuds that’ll be the perfect partner on your next active getaway. skullcandy.co.uk

Crying babies, snoring seniors, the absolute garbage your mates seem to talk about 88.8% of the time when you’re away – yep, travelling without headphones can be hellish. That’s why we’ve rounded up a few of our favourite sets of ‘buds and beat blasters for travel in 2018. From great-value earphones for less than a pony, to luxury cans costing more than a term’s worth of lessons at riding school (probably), here are just a few of our favourites.


90 • EXCURSIONS • CHECKLIST

CHECKLIST ▶ That freakylooking kink at the end of the top tube is designed to make the Inflite CF SLX easy to pick up or sling over your shoulder when the trail gets tricky.

A BRIGHTER FUTURE CANYON

INFLITE CF SLX 8.0 PRO RACE, £2,279:

The cyclocross season – that time when road cyclists switch to knobbly tyred bikes and get properly filthy – may be about to end, but Canyon’s Inflite CF SLX is still big news for anyone who loves getting off the tarmac and heading out on an adventure. With hydraulic disc brakes, a SRAM Rival 1 drivetrain (there’s a single chainring on the front), plus a super-light carbon frame and grippy Schwalbe X-One tires, it’s a proper weapon for tackling fast off-road tails. And in case the whole ‘flying banana’ look isn’t for you, you’ll be glad to know it’s also available in stealthy matte black and grey. canyon.com


Adventure Insurance with you in mind Travel insurance designed by travellers Up to £10M medical expenses Available for UK/EU Citizens if you’re already abroad Cover for cameras and gadgets available Extreme sports and activities covered, including trekking and winter sports

Get immediate cover

truetraveller.com or call 0333 999 3140


92 • COMPETITION • GROSVENOR HOUSE DUBAI

WIN COMPETITION

dubai: the very best of luxe If you’re after a holiday that pushes luxe to its limits, you’ve found it: Grosvenor House Dubai is one of the world’s best luxury hotels – and you could win an indulgent holiday for two, including return flights and relaxation are always a priority, with a range of pampering treatments that’ll restore both your body and your mind. Then there’s utterly delicious food, courtesy of Rhodes W1, a restaurant by celebrity chef Gary Rhodes; Indego by lauded modern Indian chef Vineet Bhatia; a sizzling pan-Latin experience at Toro Toro; and a chilled-out vibe and Mediterrasian flavours from Siddharta Lounge. But R and R involves some fun, too. Grosvenor House is the place to go for dancing as well as dining, thanks to the world-famous Buddha Bar and Bar 44, the cocktail lounge on the hotel’s top floor. Want to try this all for yourself? Enter our competition and you might just be able to. ◆ Visit grosvenorhouse-dubai.com for more.

the two towers of the five-star grosvenor house in dubai have redefined luxury travel

ABOVE: Grosvenor House Dubai has everything you need for the ultimate luxury getaway, from delicious food to two spas and world-famous bars.

enter to win you could win a luxury holiday in dubai One lucky reader will win a four-night stay at the Grosvenor House Dubai – one of the world’s premier hotels – for them and a guest. You’ll get five-star service, breakfast everyday, and a meal for two plus a bottle of wine at one of the hotel’s award-winning luxury restaurants. Economy class return flights from a UK airport and airport transfers once you’ve reached Dubai are also included. What are you waiting for? Enter now. Enter at escmag.co/ grosvenorhouse

(Siddharta Lounge) Neil Scott Corder

when it comes to a proper escape from all the stresses and strains of everyday life, sometimes only the most luxurious getaway will do. And for a hotel that knows exactly how to help you unwind in style, look no further than Grosvenor House, Dubai. The five-star hotel and its two iconic 45-story-high towers have redefined the world of luxury travel, and their silhouette has become a landmark in the stunning Dubai Marina. They’re home to some 749 spacious contemporary guest rooms, suites and apartments, where you’ll find the comfiest Luxury Collection beds, windows that give floor-to-ceiling views over the Marina, and attentive butler service that’s at your call at the touch of a button. Two top-of-the-line spas mean your rest


visit Barbados: A foodie paradise With sun, sand and rich cultural heritage, Barbados is the ultimate luxury destination in the Caribbean – now all you need to do is head out, hop on a yacht and start exploring this unique part of the world It’s easy to feel relaxed when you’re sunbathing on a luxurious catamaran while gliding serenely over the crystal-clear Caribbean Sea. It’s even easier when you know your only stop for the rest of the day will be lunch on a gorgeous palm-fringed beach, where you’ll be served a sumptuous meal by one the island’s best chefs. Welcome to Barbados, a diverse island nation in that lies on both the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, making for dramatic scenery, classic beaches and the kind of weather that holiday dreams are made of. It’s just perfect. Whether you want to relax on the beautiful pink sands of Crane Beach, or snorkel, body-surf and swim your way through pristine waters off the iconic coastline of Carlisle Bay or Needham’s Point, in Barbados you’ve got it all. But beyond its gorgeous looks, this is the Caribbean’s culinary capital, too, which means it’s a place that’s perfect for a break of unadulterated indulgence. The food’s as packed with character as it is with flavour, and nothing beats Bajan seafood. Local specialities include swordfish, tuna, lobster and shrimp, while the national dish is cou-cou with flying fish. As well as those classic dishes, the island is home to more than 100 restaurants, from authentic street food to five-star fine dining – each of which helps make every trip to Barbados a tropical foodie adventure. In a place with so many great options, it can be hard to pick a favourite, but one must-visit is Zen restaurant at The Crane – one of the island’s most luxurious hotels, that overlooks the sands of Crane Beach on the country’s southeast coast. Here you can get your fix of Bajan seafood done with an interesting Japanese and Thai twist, all while

watching the waves roll in. Also well worth a mention is the iconic Cliff Restaurant, where you’ll dine under romantic lantern light while overlooking the gently lapping Caribbean sea. The Cliff ’s chef Paul Owen brings together European, Asian and Caribbean flavours to make for a once-in-a-lifetime kind of meal. If those two aren’t already enough to whet your appetite, you’ll be pleased to hear that Barbados is the only Zagat-rated Caribbean island, so when you work up an appetite, you’ll always be able to pick just the right place to satisfy any craving, no matter what kind of cuisine you fancy eating next. What’s more, if you visit during Barbados Restaurant Week (26 May–2 June 2018), you’ll be able to get a flavour of the nation’s vibrant, varied food culture at a snip of the normal price, with everything from highend restaurants and hotel dining rooms to


BARBADOS • PROMOTION • 95

PROMOTION

MORE POOL YOU: Relax by the pool at Tamarind by Elegant Hotels; toasting the sunset with cocktails

special offer stay seven nights with flights from £1,049pp Kenwood Travel is offering seven nights’ bed and breakfast at the 4.5star Tamarind by Elegant Hotels, plus return flights from London Gatwick to Barbados for just £1,049pp –a saving of up to 50%. While you’re there, you’ll also get $100 of food and beverage credit per room to use at the hotel. For more information and to book, call 020 7749 9245 to speak with one of Kenwood Travel’s Barbados experts. Book by 31 March. T&Cs apply. kenwoodtravel.co.uk

Barbados is home to more than one hundred restaurants, from street food to fine dining laid-back beach shacks offering exclusive discount prices for the duration of the event. If you fancy getting a bit more hands on, you can head down to Oistins Fish Market on a Friday or Saturday night and soak up the party atmosphere. Calypso music blasts from the dance hall in the middle of the markets while locals enjoy traditional fare like fish cakes and fried fish and chips, washing it all down with a bottle of Banks Beer – one of Barbados’s best-loved drinks.

From beaches to brilliant cuisine, Barbados has it all, and the only thing warmer than the weather is the local hospitality – so what are you waiting for? It’s time to get booking. ◆ For more information: visitbarbados.org


Stylish and elegant. Hotel Diplomat, is a luxury hotel located on Strandvägen in the heart of Stockholm. Perfectly positioned to explore the green scenery of Djurgården and the vibrant city center. The unique Art Nouveau palace with stunning views over Nybroviken and Stockholm’s waterfront offers a luxurious hotel experience. diplomathotel.com +46 8 459 68 00


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ELCOME TO THE Intrepid Series, the part of escapism that has most travellers – even the more adventurous ones – quaking in their waterproof speed-hiking boots. Over the last 12 months, we’ve sent our toughest writers to distant climes – hiking deserts, biking mountains and schlepping on trains across the Eurasian steppe in the name of awe, intrigue and a good yarn. This time around, though, we’ve gone the extra mile and done something even more

wild, perilous and outlandish than anything we’ve ever done before: we’ve sent writer Matt Maynard to the wilderness of central Sweden on a beaver safari. Yep, you’re probably laughing right now, but life in this vast, near-untouched Nordic wilderness is no picnic – while it’s home to thousands of these wood-carving critters, there are also ample opportunities to run into brown bears, gigantic moose and a rather large pack of wolves. Flip the page to find out how our hardy explorer fared. ◆


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THE INTREPID SERIES Sw ed en In search of nature and adventure, Matt Maynard takes a walk on the wild side in Sweden and gets upclose-and-personal with some of the country’s more reclusive residents, as well as some traditional sauna rituals‌


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Jörgen Firstname Pettersson Surname

VERYBODY STOP,” WHISPERS the wolf man. Foamy-looking mounds of pale-green lichen coat the forest floor. Stands of Scots pine spread an infusion of pencil shavings and mottled light across the scene. Our lupine guide Marcus Eldh lowers himself onto all fours, sniffing at the undergrowth. A primal cunning twitches behind his eyes as he scans the seemingly ordinary brush. Then, leaning back for a Poirot-esque denouement, he fingers his fine facial hair and utters his conclusion: “Recent wolf cubs, several of them. Look how their low bodies flattened the grass. And you smell that?” We hold our breath, completely under his spell. “Wolf piss.” I’ve come to Sweden for just this kind of no-nonsense wilderness experience. There’s been a lot of talk in the UK recently about reintroducing top predators like lynx and wolves back into our midst. But here in the heart of Västmanland – little more than a two-hour flight from Stansted and then a 40-minute drive from Stockholm-Västerås airport – the Swedes put their mammal where their mouth is. So to speak. There are around 3,000 bears in The whole country, Sweden. Generally, as I’m quickly they’re pretty shy learning, is bonkers and try to avoid for outdoor action and humans, but there’s still a chance of wildlife. A whopping spotting one in the 70% of the country north of the country. is covered by forest (the UK is a pitifully denuded 13%), and wolf numbers are in resurgence, with 400 known specimens in central Sweden and around 40 packs. Moose, lynx, brown bear and beaver spill freely through the woods and wetlands. And after Sweden recently welcomed 100,000 Syrians, an initiative popped up to smooth their outdoor cultural integration. Now, in the country’s frozen north, there are refugees who are a dab hand at lassoing reindeer. To really understand Sweden, it’s clear that you need to be ready for adventure. And that’s exactly what we’ve set out for. Breaking away from our organised group, my sister and I recruit Marcus’s fellow >

EYES ON THE PRIZE: On the look out for beavers, once extinct in Sweden thanks to hunting, but now reintroduced and flourishing in the Black River

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> Wild Sweden guide 250km long, the Bruksleden Trail Jan Nordström to take extends from us on a moose safari south to northeast at dusk. We don’t Sweden, crossing everything from spot a wolf (hardly meadows to moors surprising, what with and lakes. Hiking their daily halfboots at the ready. marathon territorial trot to spread all that urine) – but we do get to meet the king of the forest. Moose are actually so plentiful in this country that on average a driver will crash into half a ton of Swedish meatball every two hours. National car giant Volvo has just started installing ‘moose-dar’ across its fleet. We spy half a dozen of the magnificent animals. Their surprisingly thin burgundy limbs convey a barrelled upper trunk and just for a moment, as we observe them across the spruce-pine-backdropped prairie, it’s like watching a tree uproot itself and start lumbering though the twilight. With magic already in the air, we get delivered to our overnight hobbit hole sleeping quarters, deep in the woodland territory of the Billsjön wolf pack. Kolarbyn Ecolodge is the fantastical love child of Scandinavian glamping crossed with Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Scattered among the forest are a dozen dens of pitched timber, topped with sprouting grasses and wildflowers. Inside our allocated home we

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find two raised sleeping births, padded with sheepskin and warmed by an open fire. Next morning we split wood and resurrect our fire, sending the smell of smoke and scrambled eggs across Lake Skärsjön. Down by the lake we discover a floating Swedish sauna. Scantily dressed locals from Stockholm invite us to swim then sweat with them, before sharing in their dubious cultural custom of flogging one another with birch tree branches. “To open the pores,” they assure us. Whipped and rested we are ready to hike, setting out like emboldened Bilbo Bagginses to brave two days journeying along the remote Bruksleden Trail. We begin heading east from the town of Skinnskatteberg (even Swedes need a run up to pronounce it), and for the next 24 hours we see no other humans, relishing all the time outdoors, connecting the flashes of bright-orange paint on trees and hiking progressively deeper into the forest. In the deserted Bockhammar hamlet we admire the ancient farmhouses with their manicured rose gardens, neatly kept behind traditional gärdsgård fences of tightly woven spruce. We push on into evening, through tighter trails, flanked by ever-present pine and

WALK ON THE WILD SIDE: [below, l-r] Marcus Eldh spots tracks; one of Sweden’s 130,000 or so beavers; [opposite] cosy digs at Kolarbyn Ecolodge


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(Marcus Eldh) Marcus Westberg; (Beaver) Anders Ohlund; (Kolarbyn) Johan van Helvert

CHANCING YOUR WAY THROUGH THE FEEDING GROUNDS OF WOLF, LYNX AND BEAR HAS A FRONTIERSMAN ROMANCE TO IT, BUT ALSO FEAR riddled with roots Thanks to hunting, and endless fungi beavers were extinct in Sweden by the end underfoot. We cross of the 19th century, a fetid swamp where but successful golden light streams reintroduction in the between shimmering 1920s means there’s now 130,000 of the beech leaves, before cute critters around. striking an impromptu camp and boiling river water over a campfire to make coffee. We turn potatoes in the fire while listening for wolves, and then we sleep like the dead. At first light we move on, crossing into the territory of the Färna wolf pack. Chancing your way through the feeding grounds of wolf, lynx and bear has a sort of frontiersman-style romance to it, but

also fear. Yet despite popular belief, wolves don’t actually prey on humans. Thank Walt Disney’s vivid imagination for that. They are certainly aware of us, though. At Ulvsbomuren Wildlife Safari & Lodging that night, we learn that wolves can tell the difference between the first and the last of five human footsteps due to the relative age of the scent, calculating our direction of travel. Chastened about our dull urbanite senses, we set off next morning to the Black River Valley to look and listen more carefully. Here we hope to find beavers. Heralded in Native American legend with the ability to transform into men, the beaver is a creature of beauty and of wonder. John de Jong, our host >

The NEW Páramo Velez Jacket has been created for very active people who enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities. Its versatile, innovative design is combined with outstanding high performance materials. The unique directional Nikwax Analogy® waterproof fabric system is ready for all weathers, and manages condensation better than any membrane. Functional design details such as adjustable ventilation and articulated sleeves keep you cool or warm AND dry and give you the freedom to move on bike, foot or water, in the city or the mountains. See the NEW Velez at our London Brand Store near Baker Street www.paramo.co.uk/londonstore EXTEND YOUR COMFORT ZONE


102 • EXCURSIONS • THE INTREPID SERIES: SWEDEN

INTREPID RURAL RETREAT: Ulvsbomuren Wildlife Safari & Lodging is situated on a sheep farm in the middle of a forest and only sleeps ten, so it’s a proper escape

> and guide at Edens Garden bed and breakfast is pretty special too. He greets us next morning in pre-dawn darkness with a gas lamp, a wild grin and the enigmatic words, “ready for the beaver breakfast?” The air is cool as we follow John’s prepared trail of gas lamps over a stile, around the dark marshes and down to the Black River and awaiting canoes. Along the way our guide waxes lyrical about the hollow-

haired, iron-toothed, monogamous chap we hope to see. We gather John is actually rather fond of the animal. “Beaver then breakfast,” whispers my relieved vegetarian sister. We paddle silently through the black water. “If your mind is not quiet,” come John’s words across the river, “you will not see the beaver slip from the mud bank and into the water.” After five days in the Swedish wilds, the background noise of modern life has gone. We still aren’t ready for the refinements of wolf urine and whipping. But we don’t miss the beaver. With a quiver of reeds he slips downstream, ready to begin his working day. ◆

To find out more about a trip to Sweden, see Visit Sweden. visitsweden.com; for more information on the Wild Sweden wolf and moose tour, see wildsweden.com WHERE TO STAY Pensionat Udden, pensionatudden.se Kolarbyn Eco Lodge, kolarbyn.se Ulvsbomuren Wildlife Safari & Lodging, ulvsbomuren.se Edens Garden, edensgarden.se GETTING THERE Ryanair flies from Stansted to Stockholm from £18 return. For more information, see ryanair.com

John Dächet

THE AIR IS COOL AS WE FOLLOW A TRAIL OF GAS LAMPS OVER A STILE, AROUND DARK MARSHES AND DOWN TO THE RIVER AND AWAITING CANOES

NEED TO KNOW


The landscape hotel where nature and imagination run wild

TREEHOTEL | +46 (0)928-103 00 | BOOKING@TREEHOTEL.SE

Photography by: Johan Jansson

Experience our surroundings no matter what season it is. Regardless of whether you have a need for speed and adventure, or if you’re looking for tranquility and a time for reflection, let Treehotel help you discover the charm of the North. We have an array of seasonal packages to exceed your needs and expectations. From Western horse riding in summer to forest skiing in winter, our activities are designed to capture the time of year and boast the beauty of our unique nature in this part of the world.


these boots were made for walking When weekend explorer Will Renwick wants to head out on an adventure at a moment’s notice, he finds his pair of Merrell Chameleon 7 hiking shoes are more than up to the challenge When an outdoor enthusiast wants to escape the city and get out into a spectacularly wild space, it often requires either regimental planning ahead or complete spontaneity. It’s Friday evening and I’ve suddenly found myself with a weekend with nothing on. I can’t let this opportunity go to waste. Chancing my arm, I drop a tentative message into my friendship group’s WhatsApp chat. At 8:10 the next morning I’m on the train from Euston to Bangor with two mates, having quickly thrown together everything I’d need for a weekend adventure – including my pair of fail-safe Merrell Chameleon 7 walking boots. I’d sold a hastily formulated

plan to them: we were going to North Wales to seek out something that I’d seen dozens of pictures of and longed to visit. It’s a lighthouse, quite possibly the finest-looking lighthouse of the British Isles, and it’s perched right at the end of a narrow island called Ynys Llanddwyn with Snowdonia forming a dramatic backdrop. I lay out an OS map on the table in front of us and, with my index finger, sketch out a line we can potentially follow – our own trail, 20 miles in length, that will lead us to our picture-perfect final destination. From Bangor the route takes us across the Menai Bridge and onto Anglesey. We follow the island’s edge along the meandering

a shoe thing Sixteen years ago, Merrell created the original Chameleon boot, inspired by the reptile’s ability to adapt to changing conditions. For those who frequently shifted speeds and terrain, these boots had all the benefits of a mountain running shoe while still providing protection for bigger hiking trips. The latest version still has these advantages, but at a lighter weight. The new Chameleon – which comes in several different styles for men and women – is 25% lighter than the original at less than 500g per shoe. The secret lies in the innovative design of the outsole which is made from a durable Flexplate lined with carefully placed rubber pods to give aggressive traction without unnecessary weight. Buy the Chameleon 7 Mid GTX in Fire at gooutdoors.co.uk #CreateYourTrail


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PROMOTION

when it comes to an impromptu escape, it’s important to have the right kit always ready to go

Mike Brindley

Menai Strait, the water heading eastwards while we make our way west. In the space of four hours, we’d swapped the familiar London skyline for a much less familiar one; all the 3,000ft mountains of Snowdonia, not just snow-capped but snow covered, made all the more stunning because of their reflection in the water alongside us. It’s a view that stays with us for most of the day, then eventually, as the sun sets, we settle down to make camp. Sunday morning, and there’s more urgency to today’s hike. We’re racing the tide before it cuts off the only path to the island and its lighthouse. After rushing through the

pine trees of Newborough Forest, the island appears and our way ahead is clear. We reach the lighthouse, take the briefest of moments to enjoy the view of the mountainous shoulder of Wales and the long arm of the Llyn Peninsula, and then we turn back to make sure we aren’t cut off by the rising tide. A quick bus ride to Bangor and then it’s home to London on the 18:08 train. When Monday comes around, despite the miles walked and the night slept on the hard ground, I don’t feel worn out. In fact, I feel refreshed, glad that I’d managed to get exactly what I’d like to get out of a weekend, and as is nearly always the case, reassured at

just straightforward it all turned out. There are some tricks I’ve learnt for getting out of the city on an impromptu escape. It might sound like an oxymoron, but in order to be spontaneous, it helps to be prepared. Keeping an eye on the weekend weather forecasts helps, and I also try to make sure that I always have a bag stuffed with all my essential camping equipment, ready to sling on my back at a moment’s notice when that rare window appears. Having the right pair of boots helps as well; a pair like the Merrell Chameleon 7, which suit whatever unplanned adventure you end up pursuing, they’ll take you from the city streets, to the countryside, coast or mountains and back, whenever that opportunity strikes. ◆ For more information about the Chameleon 7 boots, vsit Merrell’s website at merrell.com


106 • PROMOTION • PORTIMÃO, PORTUGAL

PROMOTION

Portimão: First Port of Cool With fascinating culture and action-packed adventures all year round, the gorgeous port city of Portimão in the Algarve is the perfect base for beach breaks and active escapes in Southern Portugal Think of the Algarve and beautiful white-sand beaches, sensational Portuguese cuisine and temperate year-round sun are probably the first things that spring to mind. In many ways that’s right, but with vibrant cultural history and tons of amazing activities, the city of Portimão offers far more than just a sun-soaked beach break. Whether you’re a golfer, thrillseeker or nature lover, there’s always something exciting to do in Portimão. With top-class golf courses, skydiving and an incredible underwater world to dive into, you’ll never have to just kick back and relax on the beach

– not unless you want to, of course. Heading out of town, nature lovers can hike or bike around the region’s incredible trails, taking in the breathtaking birdlife of the gorgeous Alvor Estuary and some of the most incredible clifftop views in the Algarve. Meanwhile, if you’re more culture lover than adrenaline junkie, you can trade action for rich heritage. Starting your day in Portimão’s museums and galleries, you can unearth fascinating history before exploring beautiful chapels and the Megalithic Monuments of Alcalar in the afternoon. When you get peckish, in the cool

Golfer, thrillseeker or nature lover – there’s always something exciting to do in PortiMão

ABOVE: [left] Portimão is famous for its sailing; [right] you’d be hard-pressed to find a more gorgeous piece of coastline in all of Portugal

waterfront restaurants of Alvor and Praia Da Rocha you’ll find some of Portugal’s greatest gastronomy and finest fish perfectly paired with a refreshing glass of Portimão wine. Then, when the sun sets, the city comes to life. With bustling bars, lively clubs and even more amazing eateries all across the city, you’re sure to have a night to remember. With fantastic food, incredible culture and amazing adventures, Portimão in the Algarve is the perfect destination all year round. ◆ For more information, go to visitportimao.com, email info@visitportimao.com or call +351 282402481


Premier adult resort in Vietnam

Located on a private stretch of pristine beach backed by verdant jungle in scenic Ninh Van Bay, accessible only by speedboat from the mainland. Our secluded setting includes natural streams cascading down from the forested mountains behind us while the all-villa resort boasts sweeping ocean views and tropical mountain vistas. Everything about our serene, intimate environment far removed from the everyday lends itself to personal rediscovery. Commune with Nature in the Jungle Spa, set above a babbling brook and surrounded by lush forest. Enjoy the bounty from Nha Trang’s warm waters masterfully prepared by our talented chefs while our dedicated butlers attend to your every whim. For a truly unforgettable getaway or memorable event, it simply has to be An Lam Retreats Ninh Van Bay.

Address: Hon Heo Peninsula, Tan Thanh Commune, Ninh Ich Ward, Ninh Hoa Town, Khanh Hoa, Vietnam, Tel (+84) 258 390 1000 - Email address for reservations: rsvn.nvb@anlam.com Website: www.anlam.com


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This month, we bring you an alternative guide to the US, the best learning holidays, and UK walks that’ll get you talking

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ra ise your s i gh ts Been there, done that, got the T-shirt? Try these under-the-radar US must-visits instead

1] THE HUDSON RIVER (ON A JET SKI) NYC

We don’t care how that iconic picture at Top of the Rock made you feel, the

proper way to get up close with NYC is to whack on a lifejacket and hit the Hudson river on a jet ski. Sure, you won’t see any yellow cabs or food trucks down there, but those low-angle views of Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty will give you a prop-

er appreciation of just how big the Big Apple really is. NEED TO KNOW:

Rockaway Jet Ski offers NYC Harbour tours from £254pp. rockawayjetski.com; Primera Air flies from Stansted to New York Newark from £249 return. primeraair.co.uk

2] SEDONA Sedona is a mecca for New Age-hippy types, who believe the area is the centre of vortices that radiate the Earth’s power. Time to channel your inner hippy.

ARIZONA

Downstate from the Grand Canyon, you’ll find equally inspiring red rocks and a much more relaxed vibe in the high-desert town of Sedona. The region’s ethereal stillness is no secret to US holidaymakers, but it’s relatively under-the-radar to Eu-

ropeans. Get out of town and you’ve got 1.8 million acres of national forest, four wilderness areas and two state parks to explore – plus the vineyards of the nearby Verde Valley. Basically, book an extra week off. NEED TO KNOW: For more information on, go to visitarizo na.com; Finnair flies from Heathrow to Phoenix, Arizona from £700 return. finnair.com


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3] MAMMOTH LAKES CALIFORNIA

SOUTH DAKOTA

While the carved stone heads of Mount Rushmore are one of America’s most famous views, there’s plenty nearby to justify more than just a flying visit. Trade the faces of the founding fathers for the jaw-droppingly monolithic Devil’s Tower a two-hour drive away in neighbouring Wyoming – its cultural significance

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5] ST PETE/ CLEARWATER FLORIDA

If you’re looking for certified sun without the buns and biceps of Miami Beach, the St Pete/ Clearwater area – located about

half an hour’s drive west of Tampa – is the perfect place to head. Expect a slower tempo, countless craft breweries, retro motels converted into cool new boutique hotels, and a coastline with everything from powdery sand to mangroves for kayaking. It’s also

an antidote to a whirlwind couple of days at Disneyland in Orlando. Parents, thank us later. NEED TO KNOW: For more information on St Pete/Clearwater, head to visitstpete clearwater.com; BA flies from Gatwick to Tampa, Florida from £514 return. ba.com

2] LEARN A LANGUAGE FRANCE

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in it fo r t h e s k ills The productive type? Use your holidays to learn something new

1] LEARN SCIENCE BENEATH THE NORTHERN LIGHTS NORWAY

To cut a long story short, science lessons suck, but the Northern Lights are pretty cool. So cool, in fact, that when you stick the two things together, you’ve got a pretty epic holiday. Jump on a boat with Norwegian cruise specialist Hurtigruten and you’ll see more than 1,000 mountains and 100 fjords, taking in the cities of Tromsø, Ålesund and loads

more – all in the company of special guest lecturers who’ll help you learn the ropes. NEED TO KNOW:

Hurtigruten offers 12-day cruises from £1,455, excluding flights. hurtigruten. com; Norwegian flies from London to Bergen from £63 return. norwegian.com

Learning French got you saying “j’ai besoin de vacances”?. Good. On this trip, which comes in nice week- or monthlong chunks, you’ll counterbalance intensive French lessons with trips out into the dramatic scenery of Chamonix in the Alps. You’ll spend your mornings in class, and your afternoons at leisure, taking your pick of the region’s best climbing, mountain biking, hiking and (come wintertime) snowsports. NEED TO KNOW:

A port town on Norway’s west coast, Ålesund is known for its distinctive art nouveau architecture – which looks great against the stunning backdrop of the fjords.

Insted offers weeklong tuition from £230. Accommodation starts at £177 per week. insted. com; easyJet flies from Southend to Geneva from £44. easyjet.com

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(Mammoth Lakes ) Josh Wray Mammoth Lakes Tourism; (St Pete) Nicholas A Collura-Gehrt; (Northern lights ) Erhard Barwick/ MS Trollfjord; (Chamonix) Fabrice Milochau

Yosemite’s glorious big walls have every right to be on your must-see list, but once you’re done gawping at the sheer size of those slabs, take the 45-minute drive east through the High Sierra mountains to Mammoth Lakes. You’ll find mountain-view hot springs, an eerie million-year-old salt lake, a whopping great pillar of solidified lava called Devil’s Postpile and a waterfall that regularly generates rainbows. Yes, really. NEED TO KNOW: For more information on Mammoth Lakes, California, head to visitmammoth.com; Delta flies from Heathrow to Oakland, California from around £412 return. delta.com

4] DEVIL’S TOWER, BADLANDS AND WIND CAVE

to Native American tribes goes back centuries. Then head back across to South Dakota’s Badlands National Park, which contains fossils from millions of years ago, as well as tons of wildlife, from bighorn sheep to the ox-like bison. NEED TO KNOW: For more information on South Dakota and Wyoming, visit realamerica.co.uk; Norwegian offers flights from London Gatwick to Denver, Colorado from £360 return. norwegian. com; United offers onward flights from Denver to Rapid City from £301 return. united.com


i n it f or t he s ki l ls

3] LEARN THE WAY OF NOMADIC LIFE MONGOLIA

When urban life all gets a bit too much and you need to take off to the other side of the globe to get away from it all, book

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NEED TO KNOW:

yourself a place on G Adventures’ Local Living Mongolia tour. You’ll gain all sorts of life skills you never knew you needed, like saddling a horse, milking a cow, and firing a bow and arrow, all while living with nomadic families out on the vast grasslands of the Mongolian steppe.

G Adventures offers ten-day Nomad Living tours starting from £999pp. gadventures.co.uk; Aeroflot flies from Heathrow to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia from around £581 return, with a onenight stopover in Moscow, Russia. aeroflot.ru

4] LEARN TO COOK IN OAXACA MEXICO

When a dimly lit meal for two at your local Wahaca just doesn’t cut it, head to the city of, er, Oaxaca (which is pronounced exactly like Wahaca, by the way), where you can learn to cook authentic Mexican food yourself. On Journey Mexico’s eight-day tour, you’ll

learn from master chef Alejandro Ruiz, sourcing ingredients from local markets, then cooking up the finest dishes. And drinking a ton of mezcal, naturally – just make sure you’ve packed some painkillers. NEED TO KNOW:

Journey Mexico offers eight-day tours from £2,800 excluding flights. journeymexico.com; Aeromexico offers flights from London Heathrow to Oaxaca from around £750. aeromexico.com

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The Mongolian-Manchurian steppe is 887,300km sq of grasslands, savannas and shrublands. Imagine something like the Dothraki Sea and you’re not far off the mark.

5] TAKE A SURPRISE BREAK WITH SRPRS.ME Without sounding like the smartass at the back of the class, we’ll admit that this one’s a bit of a trick. You see, with service Srprs. me, the main bulk of your learning will be finding out about the whole holiday when you arrive at the airport and the itinerary is sent to your phone. Presumably, at that point you’ll learn how to deal with nerves about packing the right stuff, or how to cope without knowing any of the local language. After that, it’ll be plain sailing. NEED TO KNOW:

Srprs.me offers surprise breaks starting from £80. srprs.me

wa l k t h es e wa lks Itchy feet? Will Renwick has got the answer – get out of the city and explore with these UK walking holidays

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1] THE COAST TO COAST Created in 1973 by Alfred Wainwright, one of Britain’s most famous hillwalkers, this 192-mile route from St Bees Head on the east coast

to Robin Hood’s Bay on the west takes in some of the finest landscapes in the country across no less than three national parks. It’s not an official route and doesn’t have full signposting so you’ll need navigation, but there are plenty of guide-

books that give directions. NEED TO KNOW:

Macs Adventure can arrange accommodation and luggage transfers from £545. macsadventure.com GETTING THERE:

St Bees, the traditional starting point, can be reached by train from Carlisle.

By Will Renwick, editor of our sister title OutdoorsMagic. Find out more at outdoorsmagic.com


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3] SCRAMBLING IN SNOWDONIA

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2] HILL SKILLS AT GLENMORE LODGE

NEED TO KNOW:

The residential three-day Discover Hill and Mountain Skills costs £350, or £300 without accommodation. glenmorelodge.org.uk GETTING THERE:

The closest railway station is Aviemore, on the main line from Edinburgh to Inverness. Virgin runs trains to Edinburgh from King’s Cross. See virgintrainseastcoast.com

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(Mongolia) G Adventures Inc; (Glenmore) Ed Smith; (tacos) Lydia Winter

Can you navigate your way off a hill in thick fog? Would you know what to do if your hiking buddy suffered a broken ankle miles from civilisation? If the answer is no to both of these things, then before you head out on any adventures in the UK’s mountains, it’s well worth paying a visit to Glenmore Lodge, the national outdoor centre in Scotland. The team offers a number of multi-day residential courses

in navigation, mountain weather and safety for anyone from complete novices to seasoned mountaineers, all set within the stunning playground of the Cairngorms National Park.

Scrambling is essentially a walk up something so steep that your hands are used for almost the whole thing, and there’s no better place to practise this white-knuckle pursuit than Snowdonia, with its boulder-strewn peaks and jagged ridges. Plas y Brenin mountain centre, which is located right in the heart of the national park, offers residential scrambling courses where you’ll be taught all of the necessary skills before being led out on a number of legendary routes. NEED TO KNOW:

Two-day courses start at £195. pyb.co.uk

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GETTING THERE:

Betws-y-Coed train station is 6 miles from Plas y Brenin, which you can reach with an (infrequent) bus service.

5] THE SOUTH DOWNS WAY

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4] THE PEMBROKESHIRE COAST PATH I walked the entire 870-mile coastline of Wales a few years ago and Pembrokeshire was my favourite stretch. The 186-mile national

trail around Wales’s ‘peninsula of a thousand peninsulas’ is regarded as one of the UK’s finest, drawing hikers from around the world to its high cliffs, wide sandy beaches and old fishing harbours. There’s a network of coastal shuttle buses which give the option of sampling

different sections if you haven’t got time to do it all. NEED TO KNOW:

Stay at Preseli Venture’s eco lodge from £65pn. preseliventure.co.uk GETTING THERE:

Buses link the centrally located Haverfordwest train station with each coastline.

Despite being as little as 60 minutes by train from central London, the South Downs National Park feels like a world away with its green-coated chalk hills and peaceful valleys. Traversing the area from east to west is a 100-mile national trail that runs, for the most part, along the top of a dramatic north-facing escarpment. Get ready for

panoramic views of both coast and country and, best of all, some fantastic country boozers in the villages and small towns that line the route. NEED TO KNOW:

Contours Walking Holidays offers packages for self-guided trips along all or part of the trail with accommodation and luggage transfers from £280. contours.co.uk GETTING THERE:

Eastbourne and Winchester, at either end of the trail, can be reached by train from London.


112 • COMPETITION • IKOS RESORTS

WIN COMPETITION

Ikos: Included For life With two award-winning hotels, it’s safe to say that Ikos Resorts knows a thing or two about holidays. To celebrate the opening of its third luxury resort, it’s offering you the chance to win an amazing escape

Forget everything you know about all-inclusive holidays in Greece: When you stay with Ikos Resorts, everything is included, for life. Its first two locations – Ikos Oceania and Ikos Olivia in northern Greece – have won several awards, with Ikos Olivia being voted world’s best all-inclusive by guests at this year’s TripAdvisor awards. This year sees a new addition, Ikos Dassia, on the spectacular island of Corfu. It’ll have all of Ikos Resorts’ luxurious hallmarks, from Michelin-starred menus to 24-hour in-room dining and all-day beachside and poolside service, branded spirits and a 300-strong wine list of local and international labels. Then there’s the unique Dine-Out service – available at all Ikos Resorts – where guests can leave the resort and dine at carefully

selected local restaurants, all included as part of their stay, showing the group’s commitment to the local community. Ikos Dassia will boast 403 rooms, suites and villas; seven restaurants dishing up cuisine that ranges from modern Greek to Asian; complimentary mini bars; kids clubs; sports activities; and much more. There’s a 600m-long stretch of private sandy beach, too, with complimentary sunbeds, alongside the Anne Semonin spa and activities like tennis, aerobics and basketball. Sounds like our kind of holiday. To celebrate this stellar new opening, Ikos Resorts is giving one lucky reader the chance to win a stay at Ikos Olivia. ◆ Ikos Dassia opens in May 2018. Call 0808 111 0131 or visit ikosresorts.com

enter to win Be in with the chance to win a five-night luxury break To celebrate the opening of Ikos Dassia, Ikos Resorts is offering one lucky reader the chance to win an all-inclusive five-night stay at Ikos Olivia in Halkidiki for them and a guest. Includes local airport transfers but excludes flights. Certain dates apply – for full T&Cs and to enter, go to escmag.co/ikos


114 • EXCURSIONS • REAR VIEW

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EXCURSIONS

M

ISSED THE GOBSMACKINGLY beautiful ‘super blue blood moon’ that took place on 31 January? The rare phenomenon is a celestial party made up of three events, and we weren’t invited – it happened during our daytime, making it invisible, so this shot was taken in low light in Svalbard, Norway. Don’t worry, though – it’ll be happening again on 27 July.

But what actually is it? It’s a combination of the following: a super moon, when there’s a full moon at the same time as the closest point of the moon’s orbit with the Earth; a blue moon, when there’s a second full moon in a month; and a blood moon, when red sunbeams peek around the edge of the Earth during a lunar eclipse and give it that red hue. Just whip that out at your next pub quiz. ◆

Heiko Junge/Getty

REAR VIEW

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Escapism – 45 – The Adventure Special  
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